Save the Soleri Amphitheatre is a movement kicked off by Santa Fe Indian School alumni, particularly Frances Abeyta, Vanessa Quintana and Willie Pacheco. Conrad Skinner, a non-Native architect in Santa Fe, NM, took up their initiative, which is hugely important to me personally because not only am I privileged to have lived/worked on the Rez, I actually knew Lloyd Kiva New and Charles Loloma, met them at Cosanti in the 60's when they came to visit with Colly and Paolo to talk about the amphitheater they had built so as to honor and support the creative energies and wisdom of all Native peoples.
Those fine artists/teachers deserve consideration, which is why I want to know what has happened to the understanding of the sense of the amphitheater's purpose, the purpose for which it was commissioned?
That purpose was to provide a home for an inclusive, comprehensive Native performance and expressive arts program so I'm puzzled about why and how it is that one of the most important educational programs ever conceived isn't being nurtured. I wonder: What has to happen in order for the essential to be operational?
If it is true (and my own training in the theater leads me to believe that it is) that "The theatre is the most authentic reflection of a nation," (as the innovative director Rouben Mamoulian told the LA Times in 1970, quoted by Joseph Horowitz in "On My Way" - the untold story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and Porgy and Bess), then why is there still no performance and expressive arts training program active in its own phenomenal, landmark amphitheater? Why isn't the program they were intent on having not well-established and busily engaged in benefiting all the sovereign nations of all Native Americans?
Surely not for lack of money. A mere 1% of the net take from casinos on reservations/reserves in the USA and Canada will be enough to provide more than enough start-up capital to perform any safety-required repairs needed on the amphitheater. Heaven knows there are a goodly number of talented Native performers (stand-up comics, actors and playwrights, dancers, musicians, poets, performance artists), all of whom can reach out to others- including non-Natives - to raise consciousness and capital. Expressive arts (the bridges between professional performance arts and therapeutic expression: music therapy, dance therapy, creative drama, and so on), close cousins of the performance arts, also assure validation of Native sensibility. Craig's quote is relevant to the impasse, I feel, for whatever reasons the impasse still exists; but it also bears upon how I see theatre as an element in several arcological puzzles. I'll explain:
Pallasmaa, in The Eyes of the Skin, explains how we experience architecture with all our senses. We feel it with our skin as much as we see it with our eyes. My feeling is that the order of architectural construction is something we may hear, as well. I mean, by this, more than acoustics - important as acoustics must be... .
What I mean is: how it (architecture) is frozen music.
Now, to begin with, music as simile is straightforward - many things are likened to music. Not surprising since music is not only universal, it's inherently mathematical. But when Craig's quote starting coming into my mind again, I got to puzzling on it.
The quote is actually from Goethe - master poet, Jung's inspiration; but it wasn't Goethe, it was Craig, author of On the Art of the Theatre (London: William Heinemann, 1911 - a classic work, right up there with Stanislavsky's An Actor Prepares), who was on my mind when I first met Paolo in 1962. It was Craig whose insights about theatre as an art form were behind my trying to convince Paolo that theatre was/should be as important to him as an architect as it was to me as a human being.
My passion for the theatre was a foreign language to Paolo at the time, one that didn't find an open resonate space with him - at least not one compelling enough to provoke him into learning to speak it immediately, then and there. But he was more than tolerant of my energetic devotion to that mystery, never tried to discourage my enthusiasm or even dampen it. IMO, he was as much amused as bewildered by my antics. When he called me, once upon a time, his "troublemaker," I took it as a back-handed compliment, decided he might have thought he needed a gadfly since he smiled impishly when he said it. (Led me to suspect he rather liked trouble or at least that he could be amused by unpredictability. Up to a point, of course. At least, that is what I thought at the time but since It's still my pleasure to think so, I'm gonna keep thinking so. I hope it's not improper to fancy that my needling him did some good, added to the mix that nourished his interest in performance arts enough to create all the fabulous performance spaces that exist absolutely everywhere at Arcosanti. But no matter: I digress...)
Where I started was the purpose of the visit of Lloyd Kiva New and Charles Loloma to Cosanti. More precisely, the intention of their purpose.
Why they were so intent on Paolo's design of the amphitheater was, as I said, because as teachers, as professors at the IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts, a college-level program), they were intent on having a perfect-fit performance space to make it possible to enlarge the programs at the IAIA that were already in place for Native peoples. Their vision was clear and long-range, I think in part because they felt - and who could not or would not concur? - that there has never been a time, particularly post-colonization, that the world would not benefit from the amplification of Native voices. Has there ever been such a time?
No. Never, I think. Native voices have always been needed, are needed now more than ever. The world needs to hear them.
This seems transparent, to me. Leads me to wonder how to coax (and who can/will coax) those programs into place. For the sake of the children, for the sake of all peoples who will ever live upon this earth.
Lloyd Kiva New and Charles Loloma both died before the Native performance/expressive arts program they envisioned for the IAIA could be launched. The venue itself, the Paolo Soleri amphitheater, has fallen to the All-Pueblo Council, which is and has been responsible for the administration of The Indian School. But while the initiative to Save the Soleri was due to the fine effort of graduates of The Indian School, where and who are the Native leaders who can and will follow through?