Budbill and Parker Team Up for a Moment of Zen | Theater | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Budbill and Parker Team Up for a Moment of Zen 

State of the Arts

Never underestimate the power of fan mail.

In the mid-'80s, Wolcott poet-playwright David Budbill read an interview in the Canadian jazz magazine Coda with a young bass player from New York City named William Parker.

"There was something about the guy being interviewed that rang a bell with me in terms of having very similar attitudes toward music and its function in society . . . the idea that music can be used as a healing element," says Budbill, best known for his play Judevine, which chronicles a fictional Vermont town and is currently being reprised at Montpelier's Lost Nation Theater.

Budbill wrote to Parker in care of the magazine. A couple of months later, a letter on stationery from a Paris hotel arrived at Budbill's home. It was from Parker, who was then touring with jazz pianist Cecil Taylor.

The two artists struck up a correspondence, with Budbill sending Parker his plays and poetry and Parker sending Budbill his records. A few years later, they met in person. Thus began a collaboration that's spanned two decades and has taken them from New York to Montréal, from Iowa to New England.

This week, the two will come together once again for a multimedia performance called Zen Mountains, Zen Streets in four Vermont locations. Budbill will read poems from a book in progress, while Parker improvises on his upright bass.

They'll kick off the mini-tour on Thursday, September 25, in Hardwick, where a performance at the Hardwick Town House is followed by a parade across the Lamoille Bridge to Claire's Restaurant. (Audience members are encouraged to bring homemade instruments for accompaniment.) At the local hot spot, the pair will do another set, with Budbill on the shakuhachi, a wooden flute.

Though Parker and Budbill talk over what they're going to do before the show, their performances usually take on a life of their own. "We rehearse beforehand, and then we don't do what we rehearsed," Budbill says.

Many of Budbill's poems are about the "gardening and woodcutting and snowstorms" of the Northeast Kingdom, but he'll also perform poems inspired by time he spent in New York visiting and performing with Parker. These, of course, cover more urban territory - from subway musicians to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to soul food in Harlem.

How does Zen factor into all this? Budbill cites wu-wei, the Taoist idea of spontaneous action in accordance with one's own nature. "You're not thinking ahead or behind, you're in the moment only," he says. "That, in a way, is the basis for both the poetry and the music."

Info:

Zen Mountains, Zen Streets can be seen on Thursday, September 25, at the Hardwick Town House, 7 p.m.; on Saturday, September 27, at FlynnSpace, Burlington, 8 p.m.; and on Sunday, September 28, at the Town Hall Theatre, Woodstock, 4 p.m.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Alison Novak

Alison Novak

Bio:
Alison is the managing editor at Kids VT, Seven Days' parenting publication.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation