2005 – Foretold: It's Your Funeral

Barebones Productions 12th Annual Halloween Show, a community created outdoor pageant of larger than life puppetry, costumed characters, originally composed live music, singing, dancing, stilt walking, and pyro-artistry.

Co-Directed by Daniel Polnau and Maren Ward
October 29-31, 2005

BareBones Halloween 2005 Telescope

FORETOLD: It's Your Funeral takes place in Deadstown, a river ghost town that never sleeps. Long-sighted Divinators scan the night sky and predict disaster for the towns decaying inhabitants. How far will they go to protect themselves from their own worst fear?

The pageant begins as the audience is led down an ambient trail to the haybale seating. Here they are treated to a feast of otherworldly imagery and illusory orchestration. The pageant ends with a candlelit procession to the Mississippi River for fire drawings and a river puppets finale. A reception follows in the Hidden Falls Park pavilion with food, drink and live music.

The pageant also includes a public naming ceremony during which the audience is invited to honor friends and relations that have passed on. Artistic installations are also set up on site for this purpose.

Post Show Reception Bands:

  • Saturday - Naughty Pines (old timey gypsy klezmer from Ashland, WI)
  • Sunday - Brass Messengers
  • Monday - International Novelty Gamelan featuring DBD

Cast and Crew

BareBones Halloween 2005 cast

Emily Anderson - Sound Tech, Amy Ballestad, Erik Bang!!! - fire performer, Jessica Braun-Ferris, John Francis Bueche, Jon Cole, Crito, Crystalline, Mike Donahue, Joey Donahue, Heidi Eckwall, Whitney Fink, Sarah Garner, Soozin Hirschmugl, Chris Huff, Brian Johnson, rah kojis - fire performer/choreagrapher, Kevin Long, Julian McFaul - Gravedigger, David Miller, Lars Myers, Peter Papadopoulos, Daniel Polnau - Co-Director, Marky Rossow, Erik Ruin - Shadow Director, Mark Safford, Douglas Saldana, Josh Schultz, Knewt Skink, Tom Snell, Jami Syverson, Andrew Wagner - Lighting, Maren Ward- Co-Director, Jebediah Wilson, Corrie Zoll

2005 Comments

Bravo! Honestly I can't imagine that I could have an idea that would come even close to the pure divine magic that I experienced this last halloween eve! I was spellbound. entranced. That was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in a long time. . . and yes I do get out much. Thank you & thank you for such a masterful evening of meaning & magic. It was like Heart of the beast and Cirque de Soleil combined!! I would love to participate in any way next year. I am an artist by profession and danced (classical & contemporary) for 15 years -Tricia F., Minneapolis

We drove 100 miles because it sounded like the best way to spend All Hallow's Eve. The event exceeded all expectations! It was our first time but now as long as you do this, we will be there! Thanks to everyone who worked on this and Blessed Be! -Chris S., Mankato, MN

We ran in to your production by accident & thoroughly enjoyed the Halloween production. How do we find out when next years production is? or Any other production you may have throughout the year? -Terri B., Mendota Heights, MN

Have a memory you'd like to share about this show? Use the comments box below. If you were involved in this production, but don't see your name and would like it listed, send us a message from our Contact page. Thanks!

1 Comment

  1. Ted M on October 13, 2009 at 10:05 am

    [From an email written on 30 Oct 2005, written by a first-time Barebones experiencer:]

    We arrived at the park at 6:45 and were directed to a hillside for the pre-show, where we put down blankets and sat on the ground. Start time was ostensibly 7:00 but a stream of people kept arriving so things didn’t kick off til 7:30. The weather was gorgeous, the hillside felt full, and the crowd was in fine spirits, chattering away. A fiddler and an accordionist played a tune to quiet and focus the crowd, and then the Gravediggers came out.

    The diggers were three black-robed women with shovels, affecting british cockney accents. They projected their voices well, and they provided verbal setup for the show. They let us know that when folks die, a parade all in white with a slow drumbeat (sound cue — we hear a sample of the drumbeat, but don’t see the parade) comes to escort the soul to the River for its journey to various destinations Beyond, but there exists a whole town of souls called Deadstown where the residents are too scared to go on the journey, so they go nowhere and their town is stagnant. The diggers’ exposition was then interrupted by a freshly dead soul clawing its way up through the ground — a servant girl, missed by the soul parade! She asks the diggers for directions, and is sent off down a forest path to try to catch the parade, and the audience is urged to follow!

    We arose and walked down a forest path lit by very keen silhouette cutout lanterns on the ground, and reached a performance area at the bottom of a slight incline, where many rows of haybales are set up for seating. We managed to get seats towards the back on the left side. The performance space was very dimly lit, but it was filled with several small buildings and a town hall with a clock tower. To each side of this space were wide rectangular frames with white fabric stretched across them. They were lit
    from behind. Shadow puppets (cardboard cutouts placed between the light source and the screen) were projected onto them occasionally to complement the live action, and they were very cool.

    The show itself was in pageant mode, without distinct individual characters. There were occasional lines of narration from an unseen narrator who, due to a muffled sound system, was very hard to understand — and that was unfortunate. Without a character for the audience to latch onto as a guide through the story, and without an effective narrator, it can be hard to make sense of broad pageant-style visuals, and while some pieces may register without aid, it’s a tough task to figure out exactly how they all hang together. The dim lighting somewhat compounded the difficulty, since visual interpretation became so important in the absence of other aids to clarity.

    The music here was GREAT. Percussion, violin, clarinet, cello. It gave character and atmosphere and interest and a sense of fun when we couldn’t otherwise discern what the hell was going on. The music was crucial to this production; it kept it afloat in the darkness.

    Smell was used too — we caught whiffs of incense during the show. It seemed kind of random, rather than a focused effect, but I thought it was interesting that they tried to engage that sense.

    The basic story went like this: The town’s residents fear the white parade and hide the servant girl from it. The parade would march through several times during the course of the show, each time growing in size. Then comes an omen — a falling star — and a chant:

    Black as night
    Bright(?) as day
    Something wicked comes your way

    …which prompts the townsfolk to haul out a giant Dr Seuss-like telescope and peer through it, but each time they cry out in gibbering panic at what they’ve seen, and then visual representations of their fears dance around for a while. These fears take the form of fire, germs (I was totally clueless about that one, but Kelly recognized it), small screaming kids running with giant 6-foot-long scissors(!), and the amazing dinosaur skeleton puppet that we saw at May Day, which hung out for a long time, walking up to the audience, reaching down and snapping its jaws at audience members. Lots and lots of flash photography of the dinosaur. After each fear episode, there is a chant:

    That’s not it
    Look again
    You don’t seem to comprehend

    …prompting another episode with the telescope. Then after many looks through the scope, for some reason I don’t recall, the town went into total paranoid mode and went into fortress mode, circling their wagons by moving all their little buildings into a protective circle. They even dismantled their town hall, turning its open front door into a fanged mouth with cool ropelike tongue, and turning its clock tower on end to become a pointy weapon. The shadow puppet screens complemented this by showing a fortress being erected.

    Then the town kind of crumbled. Two owl puppets came out and flew around it, followed by a giant owl puppet, and the white parade came through one last time. The audience was asked at this point to call out names of those who’ve died who should be remembered. Among others, I heard Paul Wellstone, Jesus and George Bush… This time the denizens of Deadstown joined the parade to the river, and we were encouraged to grab a little tin lantern with a tea candle inside and do the same.

    [So, my version of the story in one sentence: The populace demonstrates its ignorance of science, succumbs to its own irrational fears, and crumbles.]

    It was a LOT of work for their staff to light all those little lanterns, and our lanterns were all blown out by the wind as we walked to the river. But the drama of one’s lantern, perhaps one’s soul, winking out on the journey was really really cool, and it transformed that walk to the next performance space into a little piece of participatory theater.

    At the river’s edge I felt disconnected. Sightlines were limited, and standing audience members blocked the view of everybody behind them. Many, many people left at this point. I had a partial view which didn’t bother me so much because the story totally disappeared in favor of 15 minutes of fire twirling to some basic percussion. Then finally the wings of two puppet owls mounted on poles in the water were set afire, and two rafts of the dead floated down the river to our area. They paused, asked the audience to shout out messages for the other side, and then pushed off downriver as a call-and-response song was sung. Then the fire was extinguished and that was the end, except for a quick plea to feed the puppets with donations.

    Time: The show started at 7:30 and finshed at the river at 9:30. We hung out on the hillside for 45 minutes before that, so it was nearly a 3 hour experience of lavish, imaginative spectacle in a really enjoyable setting with nigh-balmy weather. Fantastic!

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