Monthly Archives: November 2011

Scenes, images, and flavors of the Aptos Shows

A rooster crowing from a nearby farm, yellow leaves slipping from the trees into verdant, rain-soaked grasses, the cozy intimacy of the Fellowship Hall, white silk festival banners with red brush-stroke faces looking down like angels or bodhisattvas to guide newcomers to the fellowship, and the real live expressions of so many new faces that began as strangers and are now becoming friends.

. . .these are the images from our last weekend of shows at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Aptos.

Gung-fu Chinese tea pouring steam and deep umber cups of pu-erh tea offering a gathering place for friendship to form.  The crystalline presence and precise attention of performing each line and slipping seamlessly through each character.   Homemade raw food snacks and vegan treasures from our local markets . . . these are the flavors of our experiences on the road.

 Answering questions and listening to thoughts.  Sitting compassionately with the audiences after the shows.  Deepening and deepening the meanings of the plays –both for myself and the viewers.  Hearing concerns about race.  Responding with time and thoughtfulness.  Helping us all open the conversations that pound within our hearts.  This is the work of Rising Sun Dance & Theater.

Laughter rolling through a workshop, reverberating and repeating over and over during the three hours.   Letting experience itself be the teacher.  Allowing every participant to share their wisdom equally.  Expanding our sense of our own potential.  Opening ourselves to the possibilities of life.  This is the play of our ‘work’shops.

Gratitude welling in my heart, this day before Thanksgiving, for the now countless human beings who have given their hearts and spirits to help Lala reach us all.  Joy in my heart for Alana Duvernay for her incredible performance work about to debut on Dec 2nd at Pacific Cultural Center.  Thrills inside me over our new “Freedom Stories” book with poetic verses and commentaries, available now!

A deep bow to Lala, who spun the stories with me to begin with, and brought this magic into this world.   And love to all of you, in every moment of your lives.  May this holiday be blessed with the spirit of thanks for the marvels we are blessed with daily.

Rivera Sun Cook


A Rising Sun Year In Review


Over a cup of early morning tea, watching the sunlight stretch across the rain moistened garden, Dariel & I took a mind-bending moment to reflect on this day, one year ago.

One year ago:

I was writing the third Lala play.

Rising Sun Dance & Theater did not exist.

The director and designers for the “Star Called Love” series were unknown to us.

The Pacific Cultural Center was a yoga studio to us, not a magic theater.

We had not met Alana Duvernay, our next Lala.

Composers David Rhodes and Tammi Brown were hiding in the Santa Cruz woodworks.

LED lights and the traveling set were just technical rumors to me.

We hadn’t a clue we’d be touring these productions.

I would have laughed at the notion of publishing a book of poetry.

Three major theatres in Maine had no idea their home girl was an actress.

I had no idea I was an actress. Most of Santa Cruz thought of me as a dancer.

A small band of friends had heard the first and second play in my living room, and knew their redheaded potluck host’s life was about to change.

Two thousand people had no idea, Lala was about to change their lives.

In a year, with the help of hundred, a theatrical experience that is moving every new friend to tears, laughter, and standing ovations has been born. I cannot count the faces who have made this all possible. In my deepest self, I know it has taken all of existence.

One year, dear ones. Look at all the magic and giving that has transpired! And it has only just begun. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I hope this reflection helps us all realize that the impossible is just a blink of an eye away. The things we never dreamed today, tomorrow become reality!

Come, celebrate this remarkable journey with us on Dec 2nd , 8pm at Pacific Cultural Center, as a new leg of the journey begins. Alana Duvernay will debut in “The Imagine-a-nation of Lala Child”. Our new book of “Star Called Love” Poems called “Freedom Stories: volume one” will be released, and I will be signing it. Food, drink and festivities for all. For six months the tech crew and designers have been bugging me to have a cast party. What cast? I asked them, laughing. But now that Alana and I are a two person cast, the crew- and you!- can have their party. Come celebrate with us!

Much love, and many happy cups of tea, Rivera