Monday, July 9, 2012

Puppets in June

The last few weeks of June were filled with puppetry on both sides of LA. June 22-23 at Highways, Leslie Gray and Triumvirate Pi premiered Maudit, the story of artist Jeanne H├ębuterne. June 29-July 1 saw the premiere of Star by Erik Ehn, which was also the inaugural piece in Automata's new Chinatown home.

Modi's funeral from Maudit, by Leslie Gray
Though varying drastically in content, there were strong similarities between the two pieces. For example, both pieces used their entire space, with Bunraku-ish puppeteering and bouts of acting.

Written and directed by Leslie GrayMaudit took the form of a dialogue between artist H├ębuterne and the unborn child she took with her to her death. There were many transformations of scale and media. Four foot puppets became shadows on the wall, flags became mothers, small rags became children, and hats became artists. Picture frames were also a prominent visual element, as were masks. Exciting moments were when the processi were revealed, showing, for example, how a simple flag could be folded to become a living, talking person.

Crescent and a canid patron, from Star
While Maudit seemed to be an auteuristic venture, Star felt more like a collaborative effort. Star is a part of Ehn's Soulographie, a cycle of seventeen plays about genocide. Sibyl O'Malley's dramaturgy led the charge, with techno-psychedelic video by DanRae Wilson, music by Eric Lindley, and lighting by Kristy Baltezore. Caitlin Lainoff led the 6-person cast of puppeteers as Crescent, the main character, whose abstracted racial justice took the form of poison-laced coffee she served at her Starbucks workplace (with a special cameo by a Tony Millionaire-ish whale creature).

Star, directed by Katie Shook, marked the opening of Janie Geiser and Susan Simpson's new Automata space on Chung King Plaza. It's their first permanent home since Manual Archives closed in 2009.

1 comment:

gloomycomrade said...

I missed it, unfortunately! But you don't talk much about music, Daniel...