Mystic Paper Beasts

The Stonington years, so bereft of theatre, were saved from total desertdom by our friends Daniel and Melisande Potter, artists in all media including life. Daniel showed up at an obscure groping get-together of would-be theatricalists and proved to be the real thing, having staged a Greek tragedy on the wooded hillside behind his parents’ house outside Old Mystic. Michele and Melisande bonded in womanhood, often rivalrous; their two daughters balanced our two sons. Michele played a fish in one of the first shows given by the Mystic Paper Beasts, the Potters’ family theatre, an outdoor environmental day show at the Mystic Aquarium. I played percussion with a few other musicians for them at the Westerly Center for the Arts. They made amazingly beautiful imaginative costumes and masks and puppets and contrived the most charming homemade pageantry and fable. They drove their inadequate vehicle from Stonington to Taos for Christmas the first year we were in New Mexico and did shows and workshops at the Community Auditorium. Daniel, wearing a towering gauze puppet and dazzled by my lights, rollerskated off the edge of the stage in performance, fell into the orchestra pit, and broke his arm. Melisande had walking pneumonia. They persisted, grew, and performed all over. Back in Stonington, we joined them in parading through the town from the library to the lawn below the lighthouse on the point, where they performed an exquisite family circus against the backdrop of the sea. I did lights for them when they asked, notably at Connecticut College and for their “Rapacini’s Daughter” at the University of Pennsylvania.

Later Melisande moved on, as did Michele, and after a while Marya Ursin joined Dan in matrimony and in continuing and extending the artistry of the Mystic Paper Beasts. They are wonderful friends.