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A Night With Walt Whitman

A Night With Walt Whitman played from June 3-7, 2009 in the Dorothy B. Wiliams Theatre.

About the show

Ode to Walt Whitman | Bart Buch

A tender, silent puppet-poem, uncovers a dialogue between Walt Whitman and Federico Garcia Lorca. Within the confines of an online gay chat room, their poetic dialogue contrasts Whitman's America, a nation full of lovers and comrades, with what Garcia Lorca sees, "and America is inundated with machines and tears." Whitman and Garcia Lorca are chased through a surreal and tragic landscape employing hand puppets, a butterfly marionette, masks, grass bunraku puppets, toy theatre, shadows, video projections, and live organic electronica by Martin Dosh. Ode to Walt Whitman explores and updates their conversation by extending the metaphors of Garcia Lorca and Whitman into the postmodern gay world. The chat room, the "meat", "target", and "bull" markets introduce new, but relevant and related metaphors to explore the new confines that homo-consumers dwell within. Ode to Walt Whitman interprets an important conversation that draws upon and adds to a specifically queer cultural identity. It is a marginalized identity traced through this crucial poetic lineage. This puppet ode hearkens for a remembrance, realization, and infusion of Whitman's love, Whitman's dreams of America.

Live Oak, With Moss | Brian Selznick

(A Prequel to the Christine Jorgensen Story)

Around 1859 Walt Whitman wrote a sequence of poems about a love affair with another man. Possibly thinking these poems were too explicit to publish, he cut them up and hid them among the other poems in what was to become the Calamus section of Leaves of Grass. The original sequence remained unknown until a scholar named Fredson Bowers pieced them together in the 1950's. The sequence was reconstructed, and today the twelve poems have become known as "Live Oak, With Moss," which is the basis for the puppet show. The piece takes place entirely inside a single suitcase, in a three by five inch opening. This intimate show is projected live onto a large screen, and is accompanied by an original score performed live with cell and voice by the musician Robert Een.

About Bart Buch (Ode to Walt Whitman)

Bart Buch is a puppeteer, poet and teaching artist who lives in South Minneapolis. His career in puppetry began 13 years ago creating bedtime puppet shows, about a salmon and starfish falling in love, in his backyard for friends and neighbors. He has worked with In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre for 10 years as a puppeteer, teacher, puppet designer, and is currently Education Co-Director. Through Heart of the Beast and independently, Bart has worked with a wide variety of populations including churches, small rural towns, elementary schools, homeless shelters, a chorus, queer youth, adults with developmental disabilities, union workers' children, and a GLBT families' organization. He also has been creating his own independent poetry-puppetry performances for 10 years working with the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Wendell Berry, Samuel Coleridge, Walt Whitman, Federico Garcia Lorca, his own poetry and others.

About Martin Dosh (Ode to Walt Whitman)

Martin Dosh has been making music and tinkering with sound for about 20 years or so. He has had the luxury of playing in bands where his ideas were encouraged: Fog, Lateduster, Redstart, Vicious Vicious, Como Zoo, King Lovell MD, Animals Expert At Hankering, Iffy, Best Red, and since 2005, alongside Jeremy Ylvisaker and Mike Lewis in Andrew Bird's band. Since 2002, under the Dosh moniker, he has released five albums on Anticon Records, three on his own Dosh Family imprint and two on Dinkytown Records. He has been performing solo, with the assistance of his Akai Headrush, since 2002; Mike Lewis joined forces with him in 2006. He has performed at the Roskilde, Bonnaroo, Coachella and Dour Festivals, toured extensively in North America, as well Europe, Japan and Australia. He lives in South Minneapolis, with his wife Erin, stepson Tadhg, son Naoise and their two dogs and two cats.

About Brian Selznick (Live Oak, With Moss)

Brian Selznick appeared in the original casts of Basil Twists Symphonie Fantastique and Petrushka. He has worked extensively with Dan Hurlin on many shows, including making objects for The Home of Bill and Sandy Kelly, Hiroshima Maiden and Disfarmer. He has created several of his own shows with the Lab at St. Ann's: The Wild Queen, The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (both of which have been performed at Here), and The Christine Jorgensen Story, which is part of a planned trilogy about identity and the body that will include "Live Oak, With Moss" and a new piece about Hans Christian Anderson. Brian also writes and illustrates children's books. His newest book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, was the winner of the 2007 Caldecott Medal.

About Robert Een (Live Oak, With Moss)

Robert Een is an acclaimed composer, singer and cellist who has composed extensively for film, dance and theater. The recipient of a 2000 Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement and a 1998 Bessie Award for music composition for Unfinished Symphony. Een has had his music performed on concert stages around the world.


A special Dream Music Puppetry engagement featuring innovative puppet works by Bart Buch and Brian Selznick in response to the work of American master, Walt Whitman.

Ode to Walt Whitman  Bart Buch

Live Oak, With Moss  Brian Selznick

Ode to Walt Whitman Martin Dosh

Live Oak, With Moss Robert Eden

Supported by a grant from the Jim Henson Foundation