new zealand electronic poetry centre


Alan Brunton


An Egyptian day for the mandarin’:

The Excursion 1982 / 2001


Michele Leggott

Originally published in brief #28 (Spring 2003)


Alan Brunton and Sally Rodwell rendezvoused with Deborah Hunt in Denmark for the Odin Teatret’s Transit festival in January 2001. There, Deborah asked Alan to write something that might be made into a piece of theatre for the troupe she works with from her home base in Puerto Rico. The result was Alan’s reworking of ‘The Excursion,’ a 1982 script from Red Mole’s time in New York. The Red Mole chronology describes the original show:

The Excursion

Script: Alan Brunton.
Music: Jean McAllister.
Masks: Deborah Hunt
Design/Costumes: Sally Rodwell
Performers: Alan Brunton; Neil Fury; Deborah Hunt; Abbey Michaels; Ian Prior.
Lights: John Davies.
Performances: Theatre for the New City NY, 4 - 20 February 1982.

‘The Excursion’ was written to showcase Deborah’s mask-making (some of the masks still hang on manager Nance Shatzkin’s wall in upstate New York). Sally designed and made the costumes, and photographed the show. The 7 images accompanying the present text are her selection from 36 slides of the 1982 production in Red Mole’s archive. Sally didn’t perform in ‘The Excursion’ because she had a part in the film Variety, directed by Bette Gordon and scripted by Kathy Acker, which was being shot in NYC early in 1982. Alan’s poem ‘Their Diet Consists of Carrion’ elaborates on the composition of ‘my mask-and-gallanty show’ and its subsequent reception by the Village Voice theatre critic. Later he reworked the Admiral’s meditation on the Boat of Millions of Years as ‘Dialogue: A Man and His Soul’ for And She Said (1984). Hapi’s invocation before the gates of the underworld became ‘Journey to the West’ in the same collection.

The 2001 rewrite follows a pattern begun by The Red Mole Sketchbook, ‘Ghost Rite,’ ‘Crazy in the Streets,’ goin’ to Djibouti and Nietzsche / Zarathustra in which a performance script undergoes transformation as it is revised towards publication or a later production. This is an important aspect of Red Mole’s modus operandi, and one that Bumper Books was specifically set up to facilitate. City of Night’s translation into video in Croton, NY, three years after the 1997 Roadworks production in Wellington, is part of the same pattern. Gonne, Strange, Charity collects and metamorphoses Sally’s comic monologues. And Comrade Savage evolved through three productions 1989 – 2001 to reach its published form. As it happened, ‘The Excursion’ didn’t eventuate in Puerto Rico, but Deborah’s request has pulled one more Red Mole script into the light of day, rewritten and ready for another action.

Text, audio and colour images can be accessed at /authors/brunton/brief.asp

THANKS to the following people for their generous assistance with this issue: Godfrey Boehnke, Martin Edmond, Murray Edmond, Brian Flaherty, James Fryer, Deborah Hunt, Rick Killeen, Barry Linton, Jean McAllister, Jeanette McKerchar, Tony McMaster, Natalie Mahony, Sally Rodwell, Ricci Van Elburg.

September 2003

Last updated 19 November, 2003