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Lit Meals on Wheels

'Road Show: Four Way Stop' finds literature in the everyday

By Amy Gentry, Fri., April 12, 2013

Tales from the city: Elizabeth Doss has a story to tell on this spot.
Tales from the city: Elizabeth Doss has a story to tell on this spot.
Courtesy of Leon Alesi

If memories of reading on the school bus make you carsick, don't worry. The only book you'll be reading at Road Show: Four Way Stop is the world outside your window.

Writer-director Elizabeth Doss, curator of Living Lit events for Fusebox, explains: "Often, when we're presenting literature, it's either in a reading format or a lecture. The experience can be more interesting if it's interactive with the environment." To that end, the free road show will ferry audiences around Austin on a yellow school bus, creating unique literary experiences at four locales that may be hidden in plain sight.

Doss collaborated with Katie Angermeier of Austin Bat Cave, Jill Meyers of A Strange Object press, and photographer Leon Alesi to set up stops that reveal "poetic and extraordinary things embedded in the landscape of our city." Part of the thrill of the road show is not knowing what comes next, but participants can expect to see pinatas, parking garage roofs, and creek beds, among other things (including, full disclosure, Chronicle Listings Editor Wayne Alan Brenner). The fourth stop will re-create a haunting experience Doss had as a teenager roaming the streets of Austin. After acting as the tour guide during the show, Doss wants the audience to "land at a place where there aren't any words."

For Doss, who grew up in Austin, the city offers a special type of everydayness, perhaps best captured in the movie Slacker. "Growing up in Austin in the Nineties, there was so much free shit to do, and there wasn't a whole lot else. There was a whole lot more bumming around, sitting in creek beds or on the curb. There was a whole lot more nothing." Austin, she points out, has a whole lot more something today. And as adults, we rush past the "nothing" that we used to enjoy. "We're so busy trying to make it to happy hour or a meeting or work."

Doss hopes the school bus will reawaken a sense of wonder by evoking the sensory experience of childhood. "That feel of hot vinyl against your thighs. The window always being open when you don't want it open, or open when you want it closed. Soggy peanut butter sandwiches in paper bags, or the way your lunchbox smells."

Most of all, however, there is the sense of possibility and heightened perception you get when you don't have control and you don't know where you're going next. She smiles mysteriously. "You just have to go along for the ride."


Road Show: Four Way Stop takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 20 & 21, 3pm, with the audience gathering at Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd.

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