Baraboo, WI, Population Normal People

by Esther Emery

You know we just closed The Sugar Syndrome. You know we have a reading of Labyrinth of Desire this month. Next up? … The Butcher of Baraboo, written by Marisa Wegrzyn.

Having just spoken of “blog culture, MOXIE’s tangential relationship to,” in a post ironically completely without linkage, I’m relieved to be able to recommend without reservation Marisa’s personal blog, Chainsaw Calligraphy. Please go. Waste a perfectly good hour of your day.  I find it funny (like the play), unpredictable (like the play), delightfully self-absorbed, and sort of unmistakably midwestern. San Diego natives may or may not agree. Please advise. 

We are currently in pre-production for The Butcher of Baraboo, and had a team of four in our scenery meeting on Sunday. That’s two directors and two scenic designers. Mmm hmm. Two of each. That’s how we roll. And, just to keep everybody guessing, I’m not one of the directors. I have the great privilege of co-designing scenery with our resident queen of futuristic junk piles (The Listener) and skate-park platforming (The Sugar Syndrome), Amy Chini.

This is an unequal relationship in a number of ways. Namely, Amy is unbelievably crafty. She has a capacity for visual detail that rocks several planets, and fingers to match. I can’t really make anything out of anything except paperclips, and even those are sculptures only a mother could love. 

But I do have something to offer.

In that early meeting we addressed the exotic setting of Baraboo, WI, which is an honest-to-god real town of 10,000+ in the semi-rural frozen North. Here are the disjointed notes I scribbled in my notebook as Delicia (co-directing with Chelsea Whitmore) started giving us the scoop:  “home feeling of the kitchen in Wisconsin…frost/winter…see some of the outside world…door, butcher block, window…Wisconsin as it really is vs. Wisconsin as we might imagine it…

And that’s when I laughed a little.  Although I greatly appreciate the theatrical tension between romanticizing a far away place and presenting its documentary reality, Wisconsin is a whole lot more normal to me than San Diego will ever be. I have a brother who lives there. Palm trees are not actually good for you; my brother and I share that knowledge. And my true heritage is near enough the frozen North that sitting in a San Diego apartment in February, wearing flip flops, and talking about how Baraboo is “exotic” makes me giggle. 

Here’s a house for sale in Baraboo.


And here’s one in San Diego.


Where do you think the normal people live?