WHEN FREMONT WENT TO HELL
by Kirby Lindsay
Maque daVis cheerfully described how he produced Hell in Fremont. For a year he worked at it, “each year I solicit ideas from friends,” he explained, in his search for a story about the underworld for Trolloween. Someone mentioned Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, and “as soon as I reread it,” he knew it would be perfect.
For his 20th Trolloween, daVis wanted something extra-special. The celebration combines acknowledgement of the ‘birth’ day of the Fremont Troll, community, performance, and general outrageousness on Halloween night. This year he also incorporated history. “Many people from many different Trolloweens [celebrations] participated this year,” daVis explained. He wanted this performance to be bigger and better than ever…just as he has each of twenty years.
‘Just a love spat, honey’
On October 31, 2009, Dante, also called The Pilgrim (performed by Chris Huson) has met his girlfriend, Beatrice, also called Pandora (Kristin Huson), at the Fremont Troll to beg forgiveness – but she seems pretty pissed. Dante swears he’ll go to hell and back for her. She considers it, and opens up a whole world of trouble as she tells him, ‘Go for it!’
Unfamiliar with Hell, and most certainly Fremont’s Inferno, the Pilgrim applies to his friend Virgil, who is also called The Poet (SeanJohn Walsh), to guide him. Although blind, the Poet agrees. Beatrice – along with a good measure of on-lookers – tags along and the haunt of Fremont begins, led by dancers and the music of VamoLa!
Very shortly, the massive crowd must pass Minos (Simon Neale). Known in life for his just decisions, this past King now stands at the gates of hell, telling people where to go. The crowd, largely oblivious, simply poured down 36th Street and then 35th Street, to the Outdoor Cinema parking lot.
The journey seemed smooth enough until the Harpies arrived. They taunted Dante and Beatrice, and caused Virgil to question their direction towards the underworld. Still, the crowd pressed them forward, along 34th Street to Evanston Avenue, until one and all slipped beneath the Fremont Bridge.
There sat Cleopatra, in all her wily glory. Having aligned herself in life with powerful men, in death she will spend eternity attempting to seduce the Fremont Troll, unaware of the ultimate futility of her powers over this cold, indifferent and, frankly, concrete beau.
Next came Wasters (Michael Falcone) and Hoarders (Ben Smith), tied together in an eternal battle. ‘Why throw this away?’ says the hoarder as the waster questions, ‘Why save that?’
Dancers performed “Thriller” to live music by the Fremont
Philharmonic and VamoLa!, before the Pilgrim, the Poet and Pandora faced the River Styx (created by Stuart Zobel.) Flags and music, couldn’t disguise the swampy ick of the river, and its unfortunate occupants. The Wrathful flail - chewing, biting and clawing one another in constant mayhem – alongside the Slothful who lay, sullen and lethargic, gurgling in the muck.
The Heretics (Cedar Mielnik and Katy Webber) undergo a circular torture. Removed from their graves, their judges force them to speak their incriminating words on which they are tried. The sentence sends them back to their graves, lined with nails, a stone is placed upon them, then a mighty blow breaks it and they start again.
For those guilty of Lust, they dance (Delilah and her troop, in projected 3D) their torment. From there, the voyage approaches a giant called Antaeus. Those guilty of Fraud and Treachery writhe beneath him on aerial silks (John Murphy and Charly McCreary of Cabiri) before the explorers are lowered by Antaeus, through a flaming gate to the final circle of hell, called Cocytus.
‘I’ve got to find you a place in hell’
Simonists – people (religious and political) who sell their office for personal gain (Norma Baum) – are plunged, headfirst, into smoking holes in the ground. The pilgrim and his guide met a televangelist (Candace Reiter) who offered, for only $24.99, to build a tunnel while a politician (Debbie Green) sold a vote on a restored viaduct. As the bickering and cajoling of these two reached unbearable proportions, they joined the other Simonists and all that could be seen were legs that wriggled from the putrid dirt.
From the realm of Panderers and Seducers came a seductive voice (Janna Wachter), singing ‘Habanera’ from the opera Carmen. Flatterers wrestled in mud until their leader (Gyan Davies) broke into a song. The Falsifier (David Holland) appeared “kind of schizophrenic,” according to daVis, as he changed his story depending on his audience. As he elaborated on his contradictory statements, the line blurred between hypocrite and crazy. The Thieves, however, never showed. Chased for all eternity snakes, they remained continually out of sight.
Near the center of hell resides Joseph McCarthy (Dan Goodman), condemned as a sower of discord for Treason. A frozen Judas Iscariot (Myron Sizer) thaws at the arrival new witnesses. ‘I was his best friend,’ he pleads, ‘He told me to do that. This isn’t right, I shouldn’t be here. God wanted his son to be condemned and I made it happen!’ As our protagonists move on, Judas freezes up once again.
Within sight of the Great Satan, two Fire Devils appear (Moeppi Ginda and son, Diemo). The elder devil attempts to instruct his apprentice in fire blowing, but swallows the gasoline instead of spraying it. As the mini-devil is encouraged to try, his mother (Rebekah Ginda) rushes in interfere.
Arrival at the Great Satan (Rev. Chumley) earned our explorers a rant, on humanity, injustice and the erstwhile punishments of God. Here, at the depths of hell in Fremont, Dante offers Beatrice the place to decide if he has suffered enough. She agrees, and in love, they climb out of hell, and say farewell to their guide, the poet, who stays at the gate where poets reside.
After the end of Trolloween 2009, daVis gave thanks for all his intrepid performers, and John Scarf who helped mightily with set up and tear down. In 2010, the 21st event will “come of age” but until then, daVis begs that anyone who captured this singular trip to Fremont’s Inferno on video or film, might share it with him at email@example.com
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.