America’s last hometown, a former Methodist summer camp, gears up for its annual festival. The Chautauqua production is a surreal fantasy depicting the Legend of Blue Willow, her royal court and their families. All roles are played by local Caucasians. Thousands crowd grassy parks, steep beach, granite shoreline. Priceless real estate once overlooked a settlement of Chinese fishermen. They have vanished since their village was destroyed by mysterious conflagration. The audience observes Princess Topaz fleeing forced marriage to a rich old Mandarin as decreed by T’so Ling, her father. Red and gold lanterns decorate porches, storefronts, dangle from balconies, hang within rigging. Circling boats search Lover’s Point Lagoon for the runaway who intends suicide, but is saved by the discovery of poor scholar Chang, her humble lover. They reunite, transform into Monarch butterflies, flutter skyward from their pursuers. Above Monterey Bay, brilliant fireworks burst, silver sparks shower.
Jennifer Lagier has published eight books of poetry and in many literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, is now a retired college librarian/instructor, member of the Italian American Writers Association, co-edits Homestead Review and Monterey Poetry Review, helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings.