GRUMPUSS AUDIO THEATER
CD LINER NOTES
Poet, composer, and storyteller, Travis Pike composed Grumpuss as a short, fantasy adventure rhyme to amuse his daughter, Lisa. Over the years, as fresh ideas sprang to mind, he revisited it, adding new passages and characters who enhanced the adventure and, from time to time, often at Lisa's bidding, pulled it out of its filing cabinet to read it to her friends and other vistors to Otherworld Cottage.
When Lisa graduated from UCLA with Departmental Honors and a degree in Classical Civilization, she helped Travis with his literary and musical properties in development.
One day, after reading of Grumpuss for visitors, they all agreed that Travis should incorporate the ideas he'd brought up in that evening's spirited discussion, and add Grumpuss to his projects in development. He did, and when Lisa read the finished poem, and suggested he record it. It made sense. Readings, with intermission, refreshments and discussion, frequently ran up to three hours. So in 1984, Travis first recorded Grumpuss, in voices appropriate to their characters and situations, at the small recording studio in Pasadena, California, owned and operated by his youngest brother, Adam.
Dick Moran, an old friend from Newton Corner, Massachusetts, came to visit bringing with him his friend, Dr. Judith Stanton, a Professor of English at Bridgewater State College, Massachusetts in 1995. Travis made her a copy of the cassette to use with her classes, and there is no better introduction to Grumpuss than her letter to me of March 24, 1997, which is quoted here in its entirety.
I have been a Grumpuss fan ever since you first introduced me to your taped performance two years ago. That was when Grumpuss began to haunt my mental landscape and invigorate my thinking about the relationship between myth, creativity and modern poetry.
"Grumpuss is erudite, but never pedantic in the way some modern poetry can be. It skillfully weaves its themes and cultural references into a masterful heroic tale proving that the epic narrative tradition is still valid.
Last year as an introduction to oral poetry in my Homer and Greek Tragedy Seminar, I used Grumpuss to stimulate discussion of the way fragments of culture may be re-integrated. Grumpuss illustrated for my students the organic way in which artistic creation grows out of and gives new coinage to the stories of the past. The audio version I played for the class helped the students realize that some stories are best transmitted orally, and this has helped them to develop an appreciation of both the oral and written traditions.
With your permission I will be using Grumpuss with senior English majors in my Myth and Modern Poetry Seminar this fall. It will be especially helpful in that context because those graduating students are studying literature not only because they are interested in it for itself, but also because they are planning to teach it.
"The Grumpuss is a lovable character who appeals to all age groups. Because of this, and because of his story's links to the heroic past, my students can use him to entice their elementary and secondary school students into an understanding of our shared cultural heritage. Using Grumpuss will be an excellent means for them to demonstrate that the tradition remains fertile and that new mythic characters of substance are still being created.
Again, my sincere thanks for the use of your performance for my classes. You have created a character who will enrich the imaginations of many. I sincerely hope that you can arrange for the general public to meet him soon.
"Soon" was sooner than anyone could imagine. Six months and one week later, on November 1st, 1997, Travis premiered Grumpuss at Blenheim Palace, England, home to the Duke of Marlborough, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and a World Heritage site, for which he wrote in additional characters, scenes and situations to adapt it for a live, benefit performance for the UK Save The Children Fund.
And during that six months, he also discovered and rehearsed the three Waif's (rhythmic gymnasts Yvonne Marie Hill, Aimee Johnson, and Rosy Meridith), held in thrall by the Fairy Queen (Anna Scott), conferred with the Waif's choreographer (Alitia Sands), composed the music, scouted locations, and memorized the entire epic narrative rhyme by heart and performed the role of the storytelling Bard in a performance before a live, celebrity audience to benefit Save the Children.
) Travis Edward Pike, Otherworld Cottage Industries, All Rights Reserved
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