They are The Tribe Of The Blue Mud People, that is, people surviving with AIDS. And their story is being told by VOICES, a ground-breaking HIV/AIDS theatre workshop at Los Angeles' Fountain Theatre.
Tribe, opening Nov. 29, is a group effort, written and performed by D.N. Bloom, N.E. DeGroot, Chet J. Gugol, Leo Lerma, Michael Olton, Lawrence Stewart and Ricardo Urrutia. The troupe take on the challenging struggles of everyday life as they live, survive and thrive, despite an uncertain tomorrow. Their unique experiences of living with AIDS are the focus of Mud People.
In the play, the idea of Blue Mud People evolved out of a collective dream of a tribe of men who cover themselves with blue mud to symbolize their outcast status. Associate producer and Fountain director of audience development Ben Bradley told Playbill On-Line, "It's as if to say, `get close, and you'll be affected, too.'"
Founded in 1994 by director James Whittle and Fountain managing director Stephen Sachs, VOICES HIV/AIDS Theatre Workshop seeks to provide a safe, creative outlet for members -- of all ethnicities, gay and straight -- to express themselves, artistically, onstage. Blue Mud happens to be an all male piece, simply because "we've had a rough time getting and keeping women in the company, but everyone's welcome. The show is not a therapy session; it's the outgrowth of a creative process." Bradley said. To this day, VOICES remains the only free workshop of its kind.
VOICES' previous production was a revue, Busy Living, directed by Lee Mathis. Tribe is the company's first fully original piece. The Tribe Of The Blue Mud People runs at the Fountain Theatre through Dec. 8. Other Fountain shows currently running are Orpheus Descending, ending its four month run this weekend, and Lonely Planet starring Philip Anglim (The Elephant Man), which is playing at the Matrix Theatre space. For tickets ($20) and information on Mud People, call (818) 663-1525.
-- By David Lefkowitz