New Reviewers Competition
In the last edition of Animations Online we announced a competition to find new writers for the magazine. All writers and would-be writers were welcome to apply, be they young critics new to reviewing, puppeteers or other artists who wished to broaden their engagement with puppetry, or established critics new to puppetry. Here’s the winning entry!
Teatre de l'Home Dibuixat, Barcelona | T.O.T. Festival
27 March 2010
Reviewed by Matt Jackson
The 'space' of a performance is an important factor in a production's appeal to an audience. Performers can take this into account when creating a show intended for a specific location by devoting as much attention to the scenography as they would normally to the text. With today's performance world becoming increasingly a nomadic one, artists do not always have access to a set theatre. Enter the street performer: a ‘total’ actor who can erect a stage, proscenium, and audience wherever they see fit.
This March, Québécois company Poupées [k]rinkéesdropped the hat of its street show, Punzelle, into the T.O.T. Festival of Barcelona. It surprisingly landed in an intimate theatre with cushioned seats and an eager audience waiting in the dark.
As the curtain slowly opened, the children gasped as the larger-than-life leading character was revealed. Punzelle is faithfully based on the Grimm's tale of Rapunzel, the maiden locked in a tower whose long hair serves as the only means of access for visitors. Almost 2½ metres tall, Punzelle proceeded to tell her story as puppet after puppet was introduced, consistently centred around this giant central figure. As designer and performer, Julie Desrosier's history as a skilled artisan permeates this production's many chapters as her expertly crafted objects tell the popular story.
Cloth dolls hidden in dress trimmings, babies born from foam stomachs, half masks, spiders, and even latex puppets that become full-faced masks – all of this was woven in and out of the costume which doubled as the tower set. Designed to be worn by a puppeteer on stilts, it cleverly enables Desrosier to marry a 'total' object theatre with one mobile actor. However, its full potential was never demonstrated while statically confined to the black box. For the duration I was lead to believe the puppeteer was merely standing on a platform hidden by a large dress, up until her short exit at the end. The magic of the effect being too brief to justify the design.
I was reminded of the towering giants from company Royal de Luxe, and how a large factor of their effect is the surprise of seeing them on pedestrian streets. Their fantasy invades daily life, as opposed to appearing on a stage intended for fantasy. Therefore, despite Desrosier's impressive means of storytelling, I was left wondering what was lost from the original magic of her presence wandering freely around a town? Regardless, be sure to pay a visit to Punzelle if it wanders into yours.