|Talking to myself about puppets post Ed|
November 7: I have seen the Tiny Ninjas they (or he) did Hamlet at the Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany.
I had a good time. It was performance art which is to say that Dov Weinstein's movements between the sets on the stages, and the closeup camera views, all the details of his movements in the service of the Hamlet script, was enough to keep my interest.
Added to that was the Hamlet story. It was a very competent reading of an incompetent script. I understand Weinstein started with a script that was possibly written down from memory by a Shakespearean cast member. This script was then stripped of any long monologues, crippled down to 50 minutes. It was performed effortlessly.
My friend Tim remarked that we were watching a man playing with toys, and that there was some of that kids down on the rug playing kind of intensity coming through from this production. It's true, he was getting the magic of toys, the playing and creating and being and losing your mind to a small made up world. Mixing that with the most important literature in the western world, pretty good.
10-26-07: A fantastic personal collection of shadow puppets has been discovered
This dynamic installation brings to life a 2,000-year old popular folk art that continues to engage audiences of all ages. Featuring actual shadow figures and documentary video material from the collection of Dr. Fan Pen Chen (UAlbany East Asian Studies Department)
Also, this performance by the Chinese Theatre Works troupe:
TIGER TALES: production by Chinese Theatre Works
OVERHEAD PROJECTOR SHADOW PUPPETRY WORKSHOPS:
ABOUT CHINESE SHADOW THEATRE:
It was in a small theatre on campus, sold out. About 150 people. They did two shows, one short and somber one-puppet classic called "snow," and a longer funny piece called "Yaji and Kita." A 200 year old knee slapper.
The biggest star of the evening was the Shinnai singer. He sang all the dialog using different voices, sometimes throwing in bits of English which was a crowd pleaser. Especially words like "my balls" and "horse shit." According to the program, this style of singing is from the 1700s and the early works of the genre were mostly Romeo and Juliet style double suicides as these stories had the richness of romance and tragedy combined.
Each puppet was controlled by a single puppeteer. Bunraku is with three puppeteers, they explained, and Kuruma Ningyo was with one. The puppeteer would sit on a little wheeled box which freed his feet to control the feet of the puppet. Worked pretty well, I'd never seen anything like it. The puppeteers could scoot around pretty quickly. Two shamisen players accompanied the singer, a good show!
The singer was a living national treasure (Bearer of Intangible Cultural Property).
That's my report. I thought the comedy came across better than the tragedy, but I didn't have a very good seat. There was no stage, no special lighting, it was sort of like seeing something at a state fair. Imagine a show like this set in sumptuous surroundings in an urban pleasure district of the Edo period, the "floating world." It could be just incredible.
This morning I was going to the tire place I always go to to get my snows off and summer tires on, June is a little late I know.
Should Pa Ubu wear a tie? Well? Peter Schumann's Mr Fatso comes to mind, one of the most completely realized puppet characters imaginable and I can see Pa Ubu with a tie at least. With a suit and tie with a cigar and Uncle Sam top hat, Mr Fatso is the ur-villain of the world.
Goethe's Faust has long fascinated me and given me ideas as I read and reread it. When you get down to it though, it's complex and disjointed, hard to turn into a puppet show. Marlowe's Faust is much more straightforward fun. Marlowe's Faust at least has the strength of a character determined to enjoy himself doing bad things.