THANKS LINDA AND CLAUDIA FOR INVITING THE SADHU MAN
“We believe in puppet theater as a wholesome and powerful language that can touch men and women and children alike, and we hope that our plays are true and are saying what has to be said, and that they add to your enjoyment and enlightment.”
I love Sadhus. Even as a child I found National Geographic photos of indigenous and holy people my favorite part of the magazine and later continued the passion by living for years in Ashrams, Zen Centers and also frequented Tibetan Buddhist Ceremonies, hoping to see the nuns and monks, hoping to be near them, hoping to learn from them, hoping to rub up against their robes so that some of their spiritual aroma would transfer to my strict Roman Catholic soul.
Why are Sadhus so wonderful? Is it because they seem connected differently, more naturally, more assuredly, more innocently to the Beyond? Are they from some planetary place that I have never visited? All I know is that I wanted out of Western Culture and catapulted myself into the Eastern world of authentic Oneness as often as possible, even surviving a trip to Benares, India and the burning ghats to film their version of old age, sickness and death. And yes, to watch Sadhus in non-magazine action. And another yes, they do things differently in India.
Even to this day I am on the lookout for Sadhus of Kumbha Mela intensity and May 13, 2016, I found one at TIME SPACE LIMITED, an art space founded/directed by Linda Mussmam, in NYC, 1973. Claudia Bruce joined Linda as co-director, 1976 and now, in their space in Hudson NY, they share their generous/prophetic vision of art/life via movies, live broadcasts, youth programs, art exhibitions, original theatre and special events.
The special event I attended brought Sadhu Peter Schumann of THE BREAD AND PUPPETT THEATRE to TSL and my internal/external drama began in their parking lot where my dream self kicked in with the mission, ” You must find him and see him.” I wanted him, I needed him , I was in search of him and when I entered the building, (I was the first audience member there), it was suggested that I visit the gallery and tour his beyond poetic prints, tour his beyond simple and intense woodcuts, tour his non-pretentious banners and books but I knew that I wanted to tour HIM! I really did want to honor the wishes of the beautiful and kind ticket taking man but I barged into the theatre itself and was standing two feet from Sadhu Peter who was sitting in row one, first seat, right at the door. Inner gasping, our faces met and there I was with the always smiling Buddha Art Man; the Sadhu whose mouth opened in repeated fish breathing gasps of eros every few minutes so that it could emit light-man; the disheveled white haired man-bun-man; the clear, dark complexioned unable to tell what planet he’s from-man; the artist as Sadhu-Man. I wanted to measure his age to my age, both of us decidedly elders. I wanted to feel the aire around the genius of someone dedicated to a life of superb, seemingly simple but totally complex and satisfying SOUL ART. I wanted to be him.
He looked up, I looked down and he said, in greeting, “Good Morning!” Things couldn’t get any better than that because it was 7PM and maybe he was committing a past life faux pas and saw me as a former /present lover who frequented his bed on a cold Vermont farm morning? Or maybe we had travelled to Indonesian temples together and met on a tour one morning in 1765 and he remembered that? I milked his ,”Good Morning” for symbols and synchronicities , finding none. But wait, maybe it was because my white haired braids and my age, 74, were a statement of radical inclusion and feminist rebellion against looking tidy and well kempt. Is that why he said, “Good Morning” at 7PM? That’s it, maybe he likes me and seeing me he lost Time!
Sitting three seats in back of him during his rest from rehearsal, I realized that I had a job: To “never take my eyes off of Peter Schumann tonight.” Following him like a detective-journalist I internally journaled how he glided and didn’t walk; I journaled that he looked like someone who had relinquished his ego; I journaled his no-need for outer applause/honors; I journaled his ability to dress down in reaction to consumerist grandiosity; I internally journaled his child-like presentation of political sins astutely accomplished by his painting brilliantly in German Expressionistic manner, on refrigerator-size cardboard, a cast of four dozen good and bad larger than life personas/characters held together by masking tape, which was exposed on the back for all to see. Nothing hidden, nothing technological, nothing complicated but totally intense, deep and symbolically archetypical.
All was disguised museum quality but used in a “hidden” way to teach truths with not a nod to galleries or Artforum. Peter has been re-configuring medieval morality plays for over 50 years, holding a stance that is timeless and pure. His co-performers, about 10 of them, are talented, limber, equally luminous and able to make the difficult appear easy/effortless in their desire to expose current powers-gone-wrong. They sang and danced the grief of now very well.
I’m pretty sure that Peter always offers art communion after his “experiences.” I imagined big hunks of Italian Bread when they announced , please come and receive a piece of bread after the show, but no, it was a very small piece of dark, probably 87 grain, non gluten free sourdough eucharist, slathered with intense aioli….a sacred reminder that ART IS GOOD CHURCH.
I left too high to find him, too frightened that I might say the wrong thing and break my mood, too ecstatic to get close to Peter. I had smelled the Sadhu and he smelled good.
Linda Mary Montano 2016