We’re not going to say John Bromberg is superstitious, but after 12 successful Mudball Festivals, the regional performance artist decided that a thirteenth success might be pressing his luck. This year’s inaugural No Ball Festival on Aug. 25 and 26 promises to be everything you’ve come to expect from Mudballs past, minus the sculpture of honor.
An annual retreat of sorts for area artists as well as Bromberg’s own family to share their creativity under the relaxed open skies and bright stars of rural Wayne County (what the artist calls his pre-industrial paradise), the festival will begin at noon on Saturday with a farm show geared toward children.
“I’m so fired up by farming that this year I want to bring it to my grandchildren. I made this little garden for each of them,” Bromberg said.
Following this “short expose of farming,” participants will progress to the farm’s airy Puppet Chapel on top of the hill for The No Show.
The program features some of Bromberg’s favorite writers sharing their idea of a “13-point No Manifesto.” A “shuttle” will be offered this year for those who can’t manage the moderately steep climb. Among those reading are Richard Ashton, Julian Ganton, Gerry Grealish, Bernie McGurl, Megan Wolfe, Conor O’Brien, David Elliott, Laura Roth, Sasha Beckett, and Bethany Gagas, well as others not yet confirmed.
As in years past, the main attraction is the Pageant to be held behind the Puppet Theater at sundown following the Potluck Picnic (vegetarian and health-conscious dishes encouraged). The main focus of this year’s pageant is “to bring to bustle to the void,” Bromberg teased. The program is likely to reflect on “The Marcellus Church of Natural Gas” and the idea that “time is not only itself but also an aspect of movement in space.” Bromberg’s familiar Jackal character is also taking a year off.
“The protagonist is actually a bunny,” the artist said, explaining how after counting 30 bunnies in one night, the animal came to seem “a very intense protagonist.” Such reminders, he said, bring energy to the imagination.
Replacing tributes to last year’s “blue runner ambassadors of truth” around the farm are “Spirit Houses” that the artist installed upon reflection of “fallen angels” such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
“They were here and they blessed us and now they are off to another realm,” said Bromberg. “Once I started building spirit houses, I really started connecting with spirits. I’m still not fully aware of what they mean, because they’ve been affected by spirits.”
After the pageant, the writers are expected to share noncommissioned works in the Puppet Theater. Also scheduled to perform are musician Greg Elliott in collaboration with his father, David. Nathaniel Whitmore is expected to perform a “short dance” and show titled “Alchemy Unplugged” in The Spruce Grove. As last year’s kite flying demonstration by Larry Fuchsman was thwarted by lack of wind, a second attempt will be made this year, and all are welcome to bring their own kite creations to fly.
Other artists expected to contribute throughout the weekend include Jim Lennox, filmmaker Jonathan Buckley, Dennis Corrigan (puppet show and possibly films), and folk singer/songwriter Janet Burgan. Theremin artist Jason Smeltzer is expected to perform in collaboration with Wayne Smith who performed the soundscape during last year’s pageant. Saturday evening’s nightcap bonfire performance is by a “crazy rock and roll group from New York” called The Brady Bunch.
PMS Farm is located at 639 S. Preston Road in Lakewood, about 30 minutes north of Waymart. All are welcome to camp. Call Puppet Central at 448-2033 for more information.