A foreigner: Pecos Bill at Waleslab

I’m nearing the final days of my time at Waleslab Pollinate Summer Camp getting things well and truly rolling on my new project, The Many Apologies of Pecos Bill. Spending nearly two weeks in the Elan Valley, Wales with a load of other artists working on their own projects has been a massive gift. When I arrived I had many jumbled inspiration points and a few vague ideas about what the piece could be. Now I’ve generated a load of material (some of it good, some of it shit, naturally). My bedroom wall here in Wales looks like this and I love it:

I’ll be sad to leave on Friday–the lovely people, the meals magically appearing in front of me, the gorgeous walks into the hills with the sheep to shake up my mind and the chance to escape from my life and spend some time with Bill.

I feel closer to having a hold on what Pecos Bill is, and at the same time I feel farther away. Every exploration, every consideration, every bit of research triggers more. I’m challenging myself to allow this piece to be complex and not easily wrapped up with a nice bow. I’m wondering what it means to miss a place; how distance through time and geography distorts a place and how that distorts your identity as a result. How do other people’s opinions of a place affect your memory of it? For me, the piece is about Texas. About me and Texas. I’m hoping that by approaching the project with specificity and generosity that it can be about you, the audience, too. It’s a complicated thing for me to express, so I’m trying to let it be complicated.

So far, here are some of my inspiration points and lenses through which I’m looking.

  • Pecos Bill, himself.
  • Jerry Hall, a native of Mesquite, Texas, same as me.
  • How we experience time and what that means for how we interpret the past and form identity from it. And how a form of collective memory influences people from the same place.
  • Townes Van Zandt
  • A story about me riding the Texas Giant
  • Paris, Texas, the Wim Wenders film
  • Red Dead Redemption:

I’m also learning to play the spoons, thanks to this gentleman:

And there’s a wig. Of course there’s a wig.

Mark your calendars for the first showing. It’s definitely happening. The Yard Theatre, as part of the Heaven is a Place on Earth festival, 25th-28th September. Tickets will be on sale soon, but don’t worry. I’ll remind you.

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