Cry the Mercury!

The final creation of THE MERCURY WALTZ means bringing together all the parts of the book itself – the manuscript of course, and the cover (from Base Art Co., and almost ready to share!) – and the premiums that will accompany the two versions of the physical book: bookmarks created by artist Megan Weber, and a saucy puppet, too … And the constructed sleeve to hold it all in place, until it finds its way to the reader.

This process has been ongoing for some months, as patiently and productively as a show taking shape behind a theatre’s curtain; see Megan Weber’s sketchbook for one proof of our industry. To all who have asked, nudged, and kept track of this book’s advent, thank you for your patience, which is about to be rewarded. M Weber MW card sketch MercuryThe launch is in sight!


The players of the Poppy are going to Hell

… via Christopher Marlowe’s dark and epic and – most especially in this production! – fiercely physical FAUSTUS. Because the body wants to live. And the soul wants to live forever.

Thrilled to announce our fearless cast: STEVE XANDER CARSON as Faustus, LAURA BAILEY, JONATHAN WEST, VANESSA ELLEN HENTSCHEL, SAMANTHA MOLTMAKER  – all Poppy alums – and CHRIS JAKOB as Mephistopheles. The text was adapted by Kathe Koja and Steve Xander Carson, and the ensemble is working even now to create an unforgettably immersive experience for those saints and sinners who attend. Performances are scheduled for November 15-16 and 21-22-23; ticket information will soon be available. As at the Poppy, tickets will be presale only, with a limited amount available for each performance.

Our venue is in Detroit. Listen for the sound of the river. And remember, there is no sin but ignorance.

We shall hope to see you all in the dark.

Faustus logo 2


Boing Boing waltzes with Mercury

A lovely shout-out from Cory Doctorow and BoingBoing for THE MERCURY WALTZ – the gentlemen of the road, and their friends, are very fortunate in ours! Cory’s memorable description of UNDER THE POPPY is a delight:

 ” . . . a Tom Waits hurdy-gurdy loser’s lament come to life, as sinister as a dark circus.”

Amen. And the MERCURY is a half-empty theatre on a crooked urban street, brandy sipped through the teeth while turning a tattered card that may – or may not – bring all that one desires. Score it by Satie nearly drunk, or this gent in a wicked mood.

Trailer premiere: THE MERCURY WALTZ

The Mercury Waltz Trailer from Under the Poppy on Vimeo.

Thanks to the amazing combined artistry of  visual artist Megan Weber and composer/performer Joe Stacey, and the digital wizardry of Antichamber Design, herewith the trailer for THE MERCURY WALTZ, sequel to UNDER THE POPPY.

THE MERCURY WALTZ finds Rupert and Istvan coming to roost at a theatre, their own theatre, called the Mercury, in a city equal parts glitter and grime. Two young men are already at home there – the street sharpster Haden St.-Mary and the earnest dreamer Frédéric Blum – as is the fierce and visionary young Tilde, a familiar of the cards called Taroc. And all are in the thrall, and sway, of

“. . .  that railway god whom the Greeks called Hermes, that rascal lord of thresholds and of journeys, of thievery and hard commerce, of ecstasy and lies.”

THE MERCURY WALTZ will be released in fall 2013 from Roadswell Editions, in ebook and paper, and a “bespoke” hardcover edition with special extras, for the Poppy reader who wants it all. This curation process is very exciting, and we welcome readers’ suggestions for those special edition extras – email puppetgirl AT with your ideas. Ordering information will be posted as soon as it’s available.

In the meantime, enjoy the play of the cards, and the puppet’s invitation to come and dance THE MERCURY WALTZ.


A new review of the Poppy

Delighted to share this brand-new review of UNDER THE POPPY from Rising Shadow, and to take pleasure in the reviewer’s pleasure in les mecs:

“One of the best and most intriguing things about Under the Poppy is that the author writes impressively about Istvan’s puppets. Istvan has a special connection with his puppets, because he seems to think about them first and then about people. It was fascinating . . . These puppets almost steal the whole show.”

As puppets will, given half of half a chance. Thank you much, Rising Shadow, for your visit to the brothel!

What it means to move

MWeberMWPuppetfinalHerewith the third and final preview of Megan Weber‘s MERCURY WALTZ Tarot, most fittingly the Puppet, that ur-figure who attends, directs, and sometimes brings to motion the action both onstage and off. As Kenneth Gross reminds us, in his excellent PUPPET: AN ESSAY ON UNCANNY LIFE, “‘Motion,’ it’s worth recaling, was the sixteenth-century English word for a puppet show, sometimes for the puppet itself.”

In the novel’s opening scene, we see this demonstrated, a shadow cast for a larger performance to come:

The fox’s hide fits the puppet like a second skin, stitched velvet fur a russet gleam beneath the lights themselves masked into stars, the little theatre stage now become the wide dark world: though a sparsely-populated one, not even a dozen seats sold on this, the show’s last night. Beneath peaked ears the foxy man is smiling as, seeming to follow, he feints, he beckons, he leads the outfoxed king deeper down the pale chalked road into the heart of the empty forest.

The gods of Chance

A second Megan Weber creation, a second rumination from THE MERCURY WALTZ on the cards as avenues – and avatars – of Chance:

“. . . now the spread is almost complete, for these [two] bring the necessary tension to the table, as expert gamblers always do, and seed chaos, as Taroc always requires; for without chance, what chance is there of any real truth or its telling?”

Control is a myth and a folly, as we must learn and relearn; chance is the only constant, and the change that rides its wake. Turn the card, feel the wheel of fortune move beneath you like the turning world. Wait for the wink that speeds you onward, into the hands of the gods.

Mercury’s cards

See time as a deck of cards, the gods’ cards call them: each card a year, or a moment as momentous, each figure thereon an actor in the branching spread of the whole.

Cards figure very prominently in the landscape of THE MERCURY WALTZ: they’re the doorways of chance and divination, they can be foxed or fled or wholly misunderstood, but never are they wrong.

So when it was time to create the book’s trailer, it was clear that cards would be paramount in its design.

Ann Arbor-based artist Megan Weber has a bold and iconic style that spoke easily and at once to the project’s sensibility, its deep romanticism and its sense of play. And when she and I met, and I saw her recently-designed Animal Tarot, it was clear there was already a meeting of minds in place. The collaborative design process was almost absurdly unfraught: we talked, she sketched, she conquered.

Herewith, Megan’s design that speaks directly to, and of, the story’s heart: the strut and the buttons, the wink of a step that – aided by the silvery flash of a wing – sends the stepper right where he needs to go: whether that destination is a gambling parlor, the grey halls of power, or a lover’s bed, all depends on the next card to fall.


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