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A CurtainUp Look at the International Puppet Festival September '98

by David Lipfert

Topics Covered
An Overview of the Festival
Links to Shows Reviewed
Festival Schedule Details

An Overview of the Festival
New York is once again invaded by puppets of all shapes and sizes and from all corners of the world. Sponsored by the Henson Foundation of Muppets fame, the International Festival of Puppet Theater is on through September 27th. Unlike the last edition two years ago, the venues are spread all over Manhattan with a toehold on Staten Island. Prices are affordable.

Puppets are endlessly fascinating because we can safely project onto them whatever emotions we wish. They are as entertaining as the most sophisticated caricatures. Since it can be realized economically, puppet theater brings out some of today's most creative thinking. These shows are usually given in smaller performing spaces, so the audience is closer and more involved.

Two things need to be said right away. First, the Festival encompasses a lot more than hand puppets and marionettes in a toy theater. Second, this is an event for adults as much as for kids.

A working definition of what constitutes puppetry might be a mechanical (non- animate) representation of a living being (person or animal) manipulated by a puppeteer. Give or take a few skeletons, that is. Apart from hand puppets and marionettes, there are other variations that might be less familiar. With body puppets the performers can be inside a mechanical costume or attached to the puppet so that their entire body causes the puppet to move. In traditional shadow puppet theater, the audience sees only the shadows of the cutouts or hands a lit screen. High-tech permutations on the puppet theme are endless.

These shows cross genre lines, so that in one performance you might see spoken and non-verbal theater coupled with dance, often to live music. When the puppeteers are visible, their facial expressions can mirror the emotions of the puppet characters. Most of all, the images that you encounter in the realm of puppet theater are truly memorable.

You could do worse than begin at Los Kabayitos, (our first review), where the players offer a pre- show thumbnail history of toy theater in their adjacent gallery, currently chock full of miniature stages and figures spanning the past century. A handy gift shop has do-it-yourself theater kits. Their show for adults Great Small Works dishes out political satire and ancient tales in generous proportions. Separate shows for kids for the next two weekends combine a turn-of-century American musical revue called Yankee Circus on Mars with Our Kitchen, showing where the ingredients that go into making pancakes come from.

La MaMa showcases a group from Colombia, Loco 7: Federico Restrepo Puppets and Drummers in Colores. Three actors/dancers/puppeteers give an engaging account of the colorful history of Colombia compressed into just over an hour.

In addition to 191 scheduled performances, there are four exhibits and a film series-with puppets-at the Guggenheim Museum (through September 20th).

Links to Shows Reviewed
The Firebird
Short Storiess
Electric Shadows
Terra Prenyada
Great Small Works at Los Kabayitos

End of the World-- Not part of this festival but Roman Paska's show seen at the Berkshire Theatre Festival during summer '98 certainly fits all the parameters of puppetry as art and theater. Back to Top
Festival Schedule Details
Items preceded by ** reviewed or to be reviewed
(all phone #s unless otherwise indicated 212/)
You can also check out the\festival and a festival ordering e number for ordering tickets is (279-4200:

UBU AND THE TRUTH COMMISSION (South Africa), . Featuring the Handspring Puppet Company. . September 11, 12 and 7.p.m. September 13, 1998. Papp Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, at Astor Place, (260-2400).

FLAMINGO BAR (Germany),Figuren Theater troupe. 8 P.M. September 11, 12 and 3 P.M. Also, Wednesday through Sept. 19 at 8 P.M. and Sept. 20 at 3 P.M. La Mama E.T.C. (First Floor refurbished Annex and First Floor Theater, 74A East Fourth Street, East Village, (475-7710).

TINKA'S NEW DRESS (Canada), Papp Public Theater. Featuring the Ronnie Burkett Theater of Marionettes. 7:30 P.M. September 11, 12 and September 13 at 4 P.M. (highly recommended by a CurtainUp reader). Public Theater (see above)

SLAP HEAD: DEMON BARBER (Wales), 7 P.M. September 11- 19 and Sept. 21-26 . P.S. 122. 150 First Avenue, at Ninth Street, East Village, (477-5288)..

BUBBLY BEDS AND THE HOUSE OF HORROR, A double bill, with the first show from Faulty Optic (Britain) and the latter from Paul Zaloom (United States). 6 and 9 P.M. Also tomorrow at 6 and 9 P.M., and Sunday at 6 P.M. Papp Public Theater (see above).

**TERRA PRENYADA (Spain). Featuring Joan Baixas and Paco Rodrigue.8:30 P.M., September 11,-12.Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, 131 East 10th Street, East Village, (674-8194).

DIEU! GOD MOTHER RADIO With Roman Paska (see our review of another Paska Work End of the World) and Massimo Schuster (France). 8 P.M. September 11, 12, 5pm, September 13, 1998 and Sept. 17- 19 at 8 P.M. and Sept. 20 at 5 P.M. Gould Hall, French Institute, 55 East 59th Street, (355-6160).

**COLORES(Colombia). Featuring Loco 7/Federico Restrepo. 7:30 P.M.September 11, 12, 4 P.M. September 13, 1998; 9/16-9/19 at 7:30 P.M. and 9/ 20 at 4 P.M. La Mama La Galleria see above for address and phone

**TOY THEATER (United States), Featuring Great Small Works. 7:30 P.M. September 11, 12, 13 with a shortened kids version Sat.and Sun. at 3 P.M. Additional performances 9/17- 20 at 7:30 P.M. (Kids' shows Sept. 19 and 20 at 3 ) P.M. Los Kabayitos Puppet Theater. Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, (260-4080, extension 14).

LATE NIGHT AT P.S. 122, A showcase for new works, with Janie Geiser and Dan Hurlin as curators. 10:30 P.M. September 11, 12; 18-19 and . 25-26 at 10:30 P.M. See address/phone above

SIGI THE ANTELOPE, . For children. Featuring Carter Family Marionettes (United States) and Ocheami (Ghana) telling three African folk tales. Papp Public Theater (see above address) September 12, 1998, Noon and 3 P.M; September 13, 1998at 1 P.M. and 3 P.M.

PINOCCHIO" (Britain), Papp. For children.September 12 11 A.M. and 2 P.M.; September 13 , noon and 2 P.M.

KAFKA, OR THE SEARCH GOES ON (Israel), Teatron Theater. Dance Theater Workshop. 6:30 P.M 9/13-17 and 9/19. and 9/20 at 3 P.M. Dance Theater Workshop.(see above

WAYANG LISTRIK/ELECTRIC SHADOWS, eaturing Larry Reed (United States) and I Wayan Wija and I Dewa Berata (Indonesia). 8 P.M. 9/15-19 and 9/20 at 3 P.M. Papp Public Theater (see above)

SALOME (the Netherlands) Stuffed Puppet Theater for adults only.. 9 P.M 9/15-19. Papp Public Theater (see Above

** SHORT STORIES" (Peru)Featuring Teatro Hugo and Ines. 7:30 P.M. 9/15-18; 9/19 at noon and 3 P.M. and 9/20 at 1 and 5 P.M. Ages 10 and up.Papp Public Theate (see above).

KWAIDAN, Ping Chong (United States), Jon Ludwig (United States) and Mitsuru Ishii (Japan). 8 P.M. 9/15 -19; 2pm, 9/20: 8 pm. 9/23-25 and 9/26 S at 2 and 8 P.M. La Mama E.T.C. (See Above)

FISHING FOR A WIFE/ MEIBOKU SENDAI HAGI (Japan),Featuring Youki-Za marionette theater. 8 P.M. 9/16 -18 and 9/19 at 3 and 8 P.M. Japan Society, .333 East 47th Street (752-3015).

A HARLOT'S PROGRESS (United States), Featuring Theodora Skipitares.9 P.M. 9/16 and 9/19 at 6:30 and 9 P.M.; and Sept. 20 at 4 The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, (255-5793).

THE GOLEM (United States), Featuring the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater. 8:30 P.M. 9/18; 9/19 att 6:30 and 9:30 P.M. Danspace Project, (See above address and our review of this a few season's back )

AHAB'S WIFE(United States), S. Featuring Driscoll/ Sleigh & Spencer/Colton Dance. 8 P.M. 9/17-18 and 9/20 at 3 and 8 P.M. Snug Harbor Cultural Center. 1000 Richmond Terrace, Livingston, Staten Island, (718/448-2500)

ISIDOR'S CHEEK" (United States),. For children. Noon 9/19 and 9/20, 26 and 27 at noon and 2 P.M. Children's Museum of the Arts 182 Lafayette Street, between Broome and Grand Streets, SoHo, (274-0986)

THE FABLE OF THE FOX (Spain),For children. Featuring Los Titiriteros de Binéfar. 11 A.M. and 2 P.M.; 9/19 and 9/20 at noon and 4 P.M. Papp Public (see above)

THE FIREBIRD (Italy),. For children. Featuring Teatro Gioco Vita. 2 and 7 P.M. Also Sept. 20 at noon and 5 P.M.; Sept. 25 at 7 P.M.; Sept. 26 at 2 and 7 P.M.; Sept. 27 at noon and 5 P.M. gfsubhed10Sept. 22 New Victory Theater 209 West 42d Street, Manhattan, (382-4020).

NEVER BEEN ANYWHERE" (United States),Featuring the Sandglass Theater. 8 P.M. 9/19 and 9/23 to 26 Dance Theater Workshop. (See above)

DR. KRONOPOLIS AND THE TIMEKEEPER CHRONICLES" (United States), 7:30 P.M. 9/24-25 and 9/ 26 at 3 and 7:30 P.M.; and 9/ 27 at 3 P.M. Los Kabayitos

Not part of this festival is the ongoing underwater puppet hit Symphonie Fantistique at the Here , 145 Avenue of the Americas, one block south of Spring Street. Recommended for kids 6 and up. 647-0202 or 269-4849.

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