A Columbus native, musician and storyteller Dane Terry will be at the Wex December 9-10 for the local debut of his solo musical theater work, Bird in the House. Featuring songs from his 2015 album Color Movies, the piece uses Dane's childhood memories as a launchpad for a surreal vision of coming of age and coming out in the Midwest, replete with missing dogs, men with guns, and alien beings. How does the fiction relate to the truth? Dane offered to illuminate.
"So it's technically true that Bird In The House is a work of fiction. That is, the actual events in the show never really happened. However I wanted to write a story about childhood, and seeing as my own childhood is only accessible through feelings and dim memories, the language of the show is very expressionistic. In other words, everything that happens in this story is what would have to happen to adult me to make me feel like little Dane felt about significantly less dramatic events. Bits of my parents' (and their parents') childhoods also got chewed in the mix.
"Was I contacted by actual aliens? (They do seem to love hillbillies.) Well, no, but I was put on a hostile planet in a tiny broken body without knowing the culture or the language or really anything at all about my own existence, my only tool the largely indecipherable rivers of sensory data fountaining in from every hole in my head. In a sense, I was surrounded by aliens.
"The point isn't that I had a rough childhood, it's that childhood is inherently rough. Though I came into a world of money problems, alcohol abuse, divorce and cultural violence, and as a queer kid to boot (still far from the worst as lots go), it would be unfair not to say my parents did a fantastic job. I never wanted for anything and felt loved intensely. Those people are not in this show. But I was sure that when the truth came out about the way I was I would have to run and hide, to live on freight trains and eat rats and never have friends or a family again. So, I think as a child I saw a world that would be easier to lose. That dark other-world is the fog in the graveyard of this show.
"Except for the dog in the woods. That actually happened, I swear."
(Photo Ben Alfonso)