Ava Roy’s Spiritual Tour Refreshes Souls, Outdoors
by Barry David Horwitz
We Players has provided the perfect cure to Pandemic Blues: Take a hike in San Francisco’s McLaren Park; enjoy the magnificent views of ocean and bay. Along the way, you’ll be surprised by actors in full costume who pop out of clearings to talk just to you.
The woods and the air will speak to you through their inspired invocations. These superb actors encourage us to root ourselves to the earth and reach up to the skies. A natural, theatrical setting for troubles to evaporate into the blue. And it’s a private moment—for one or two at a time.
Proceed up the hill, breathe in the ocean air, and watch for spirits that pop out from the trees. Welcome them–
It’s a lovely hike up the first hill to meet Papa Legba (Rotimi Agbabiaka) who pops out from behind a tree. The cross-dressed spirit in blue tights lures us seductively from tree to tree, coquettishly hiding behind branches. In sparkling costume and transgender spirit, Legba shows us how to love the trees.
At the next clearing at the top of a hill, Ling Ling Lee sits on a throne, playing Ox Head/Horse Face, bringing us messages from Nature—her gorgeous costume hides her face, as her shoulders debate, expressing her equine nature in throned splendor.
Up the hill, with glorious views in all directions, we meet Pearl Marill as Hermes. She shines like a Golden Bird dancing round her giant wooden nest. She helps us pay secret homage to the gods of procreation. Bravo to Art Director Brook Jennings for her unique and beautiful costumes!
Farther up the trail, Egyptian god Anubis (Drew Watkins) takes us to a clearing where he invokes the dance of the Dog God to clear our souls.
Further along, Chris Steele plays the Valkyries, a three faced spirit who argues with themselves. Their leather-clad dance and debate in the woods fascinate and hypnotize.
After a wonderful, sunlit walk along the trail, we meet Charon (Nick Dickson), a man in a boat or a boat with a man. In a bright pink flamingo boat, the old sailor ferries us across the sacred river. He tells us sea stories as we float—a salty old soul.
There are more stations to visit: Don’t miss Cat Sith (Alan Coyne) who comically explains Quantum Theory for us, from a black cat’s point of view. His rapid-fire rant on theoretical physics takes us from black holes to holy places—a brilliant, witty feat! A good laugh and a spiritual cleansing, too.
There are meditations in the woods, comic lectures on getting in touch with the Spirit World, and just plain brilliant costuming, dance, and acting. These are some of the most ingenious actors in The City—each creating their own script.
We Players has included us in their communion with Nature. We are grateful, yet again, for their inventiveness, and playfulness. Thank you, Director Ava Roy for this rejuvenation. Now we are We, again.
“Psychopomp” by Ava Roy with cast and crew of We Players, in McLaren Park, San Francisco. Streaming at: WePlayers.org
Cast: Rotimi Agbabiaka, Ling Ling Lee, Pearl Marill, Drew Watkins, Chris Steele, Nick Dickson, Alan Coyne, and Regina León.
Banner photo: Ling Ling Lee (Ox Head/Horse Face)