Category: Performance

The BASTARDS on the road

THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE is on the road now, headed with a wink into its readers’ hands.

Available in ebook, trade hardcover, and bespoke editions from Roadswell Editions: the bespoke edition comes wrapped in silk, includes pages from the book’s research reading, and a memory box that holds mementos from the road.


M MacDonald BASTARDS 1

Listen to the launch reading in NYC, hosted in a second floor, red-lit bar where Istvan would surely have felt at home, and hear more about puppets and BASTARDS in the Virtual Memories podcast.

The first review“the final act in a grand epic, a smash of masks and puppetry even when the deep lines must be hidden with grease paint and kohl, the cough stifled with gin and laudanum” – sets the stage. And when another reader opines that I don’t know if I’ve ever felt such a rich and goddamn unending stream of emotions when reading a book”  . . . then that stage is well-set for its play of danger and darkness that, like a mask, hides truest love.



(Bespoke photos courtesy Margo MacDonald.)




Let us play

BASTARDS' proofs

The proofs have arrived: THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE is ready for the printer. Let us play!

“Hoopla,” he says. “The Mercury’s reopened!” in the shadow of the shrouded Wheel and bodiless hung masks, the dozen’s dozen bits of business and bric-a-brac that in the right hand, or hands, become whatever vision suggests or suggestion demands, what the gods decree or even the godlings, for power resides not only in the great, but is found everywhere that any magic, black or white, is made: and the smaller and more decrepit the better, for who suspects the decrepit, or the dead, or the wooden man with only one arm and one eye? “For one can’t have a theatre without a name, and the old name was the right one, don’t you think? Let the groundlings cry the Mercury, then! And let us play.” – from THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE




Here’s Rick Lieder’s beautifully evocative vision for THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE – the much-mended boots that have traveled so many roads, the body eternally in love – the front and back covers for the culminating volume in the UNDER THE POPPY trilogy, as Istvan and Rupert make their way, and their play, one final time.

The book’s in process for its late fall 2015 release from Roadswell Editions. THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE will be available in ebook, hardcover, and as a signed bespoke edition, with special one-of-a-kind extras paired to each copy; details and ordering information to come!

“. . . A world whose fine avenues and dire alleys, noisy taverns and velvet-draped townhouses have all been theirs, to take up and hold, then toss down careless as a pair of dice; how many lives they have lived, if only for a night! There have been nights when, his arms around sleeping Istvan, Rupert had felt immortal, as if the puppets and the concertina and even the truncheon had bestowed upon them some sweet form of everlasting life.”


Remember me

Memories are made of time, yet transcend time. Memories live in the mind, yet may be held in the hand.

A life lived onstage and on the road creates a powerful freight of memory, with new japes and beauties, new mecs and old friends, mingling to make of a showman’s life a show itself. And when that show is trebled . . .

THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE is the third and final of the POPPY books, the shared life and times of Istvan and Rupert. This fall, a gift of memories will accompany each of the bespoke paper copies of the book, a small freight of trinkets that hold all the weight of love.Rose



Bring the gentlemen home

Everett Shinn - The Black Cat

THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE has begun its journey to this fall’s release from Roadswell Editions.The POPPY trilogy has taken Istvan and Rupert down a very long, very private, very passionate road; and offered to its readers a play, I hope, that’s worth the sharing . . . Act Three, then, and bring the gentlemen home.


. . . as he climbs to the fourth floor garret, one room with one washstand and one bed, where by the bare window, in a wooden chair to watch the hidden stars, Rupert turns his head to greet him, smelling of good whiskey, drowsy to ask “Did you find them?” and “I did,” shrugging off the jester’s jacket, setting down his case to sit atop it, beside Rupert’s chair, sharing the cigarette in careful puffs; their hands link.“The place isn’t half what it should be—and the puppets, Christ!—but one gathers times are hard.”

“Very hard, looks like. And we’re foxed, messire, the papers here say playing’s no longer allowed—”

“Really?” with a little smile; someone curses, down the stairs; someone else begins to sing, a drunken, circular song with no words and no end. Mr. Loup waits, eye closed or open it is impossible to say, as in the corner, on drab hooks meant for hat and coat, Misters Castor and Pollux hang silked in silent tandem, returned in reprise to this city once their home, past a journey still unfurling in the twinned shadows of war and the god of the train station, his theatre now nameless, yet an outpost of paradise all the same.


The Bastards’ Paradise

– as that door opens, turned by a key, to admit in silence a figure of such strange opulence that he becomes the show just by entering, a man with a case in one bandaged hand and a black cigarette in the other, its acrid smoke to set the boys’ noses twitching as he takes a seat politely near the back. . . “Bravo,” says the man with the cigarette, dropping it to crush beneath a cracked boot heel; as he rises, something white winks at his ear, a pearl earring swinging as he opens his case and mounts the little stage as easily as if he has done so a thousand times before, accompanied now by a dark scrapwood creature, one-armed, one-eyed, who turns that singular stare upon the Faustus, so much larger yet demonstrably at a loss and “Pour faire changement,” says the man to his puppet. “Gentlemen and ladies, fellow players, I give you Mr. Loup.”

From the opening of THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE, coming in 2015 from Roadswell Editions, in ebook and bespoke versions. Wherein the wheel is spun, journeys are begun and concluded, lovers not lost are reunited, and play continues to offer its gifts to Rupert and Istvan, eternally the gentlemen of the road.

John Atkinson Grimshaw

“Moonlight After Rain,” John Atkinson Grimshaw

All the days and all the nights

Jean Mohr

Only Rupert is real, has ever been, through all the cold boyhood nights, the young men’s journeys, the play upon play upon play …

[Photo: Jean Mohr.]

[It] kisses you before twisting your nipple and walking away.

There are reviews, and then there’s Not a Review:

“But oh god I adore [The Mercury Waltz]; so dense and lush and grimy and slick and sexy and loveless and love-full and nnghhhh cities and dirty fumbles in the dark, and moral police and scandalised women and queer boys and actors and spies and taroc cards and games of chance and cheap wine and murder and a narrative that jumps characters in mid-sentence and says impatiently keep up or fuck off, but don’t come whining to me if you don’t know what’s going on and then maybe feels a little sorry for you and kisses you before twisting your nipple and walking away.”

A fond farewell

To which the only possible answer is a delighted Merci!


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