Sunday, February 11, 2007

In case you missed the memo, puppeteers are weird

I was rather surprised to find myself voluntarily attending a puppet show yesterday, as I consider puppetry to be only marginally above mime on the food chain. And I could have attended some kickass concerts for quite a bit less than I paid for these tickets, too.

But I had been hearing quite a buzz about the Old Trout Puppet Workshop's production, Eva's film studies teacher was highly recommending that his students see this, and the Grand Theatre added a Saturday matinee to the roster, thereby eliminating the need to schlepp my lazy ass downtown on a winter night, all culminating in the perfect storm of reasons to not wiggle my way out of seeing this.

And it was actually quite intriguing. This production is perfect for people with short attention spans, as it is what it claims to be - a series of puppet death scenes, some of which were morbidly funny, some of which were quite poignant, and a few of which left me scratching my head in bewilderment. The kid behind me echoed my sentiments a couple of times with his perplexed whisper to his mom, "I don't get it".

The first time I saw an arm and then a head of one of the puppeteers appear in the puppet window, I admit I squirmed, thinking that they were being shoddy with the production, but then I quickly realized, as the puppeteers made full body appearances on stage to interact with their puppets, that this was merely part of the technique. To me one of the most intriguing aspects of the production, was the sheer number of differing techniques that were used. I particularly liked the use of the large pop-up book, in which the same house was portrayed from a closer and closer perspective on each page, with the sounds of an argument growing louder and louder as the house grew nearer, until the turning of the final page, which culminated in the sound of someone being killed.

I'll admit it was just a trifle creepy to see the puppeteers lovingly caress the puppets, as though they a possessed a life outside of that which they themselves bestowed upon them, but that's a puppeteer for you (see title).

And then we discovered a fab new coffee shop in the Arts Central building, which is right in the heart of the crack-deal district of downtown. This coffee shop is on the second floor of a building dedicated to art galleries and artist spaces, and has floor to ceiling windows and comfy couch and table arrangements where people sit and sketch as they sip their steamers. And the baristas had personalities too, so it was a far cry from the soulless encounters we were used to at Starbucks and Tim Hortons.

And to top it all off, when we got home, we discovered that Jerry had fixed the internetz! I was thinking I had a bot in my laptop because it was really slow all of a sudden, but he just reset the wireless router. Damn, I should have thought of that myself.

Plus, I found out that Primal Scream will be getting the God-like Genius Award from NME this year. I sure hope they weren't basing it on their last album, Riot City Blues, because it stunk, but Primal Scream has always been either brilliant or horrible, but when they are good, they are sublime.


vwbuglover said...

The Old Trout Puppet Workshop production is perfect for me...short attention span. Got to go............
I'm back.
Hey, I also love the soulless encounters at Tim Hortons. I go for the buzz and not the conversation. But it is nice to have some sort of response back when you ask the counter person "how are you today?" Not that a negative response will make or break my day, but I find it better than just saying "large double double".
Hey maybe I do want more than a soulless encounter!....Got to go again... love the CDs

Johnny Yen said...

That made me think of John Cusack's character, and the opening scene in "Being John Malkovich," where he gets his ass kicked after some, er, questionable behavior of his puppets.

We had a puppet theater near my home that my son loved. It was actually unintenionally hilarious, because you could hear the puppeteers bickering when others would miss cues. My son still loved it, and was disappointed when they closed shop.

kelly said...

always interesting to go see something you normally wouldn't...never know what you'll enjoy...or hate

there was a play here recently i wante to see, but had to was about peoples encounters on a bus, it looked like they all wore large, caricature type masks....

Deb said...

sounds like it didn't kill you and you even enjoyed yourself...good day out. And I'm glad your internet is fixed...didn't want to read of a computer murder/suicide.

mellowlee said...

I wanna see the puppet show!!! I also want to go for coffee at that place, it sounds terrific!!!!

JustRun said...

Wow, I can imagine how it might be to go to a puppet show- I did it once probably twenty years ago. Surviving is one thing but even enjoying it, well that is pretty cool!

668 aka neighbour of the beast said...

i saw this a couple of weeks ago at the festival here. i loved it. although some of it was quite freaky.. plus puppets naked! how crazy is that.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

If I'm just ducking into Timmy's for some takeout coffee, I don't mind if I am served by a soulless automatron in depressing surroundings, Bruno, but if I am actually going out for coffee, I want a beautiful, unique experience. And art on the walls.

Oh yes, I remember that scene now, Johnny Yen. hehe thanks for the reminder.
I wonder what your son would think of that puppet theatre now, if he had a chance to experience it again. Probably best to leave him his memories intact.

That play sounds like it could be fun, Kelly. Sometimes the more experimental stuff is a trifle pretentious, but I enjoy a little pretention every now and then. You're right though, can't always order vanilla ice cream.

I'm just glad I didn't get dragged out to a mime thing, Deb, because I'm pretty sure I would be gouging my own eyes out at that.
The computer is still a little iffy from time to time, but much better than it was.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I think the play was out in your area a while back, Mel, but when you get to Calgary, I'm certainly taking you to that coffee shop. There's a really nice tea place down 17th Ave that we have to hit as well.

It was pretty unusual for a puppet show, Justrun. I may end up waiting another 20 years to try another, but this one was certainly worthwhile.

I thought that I remembered seeing the poster on your site a few weeks ago, 668. So it WAS the same production.
Yes, the naked puppets - hahaha - especially the buxom one wearing nothing but pearls!
I didn't get that sea scene, though, and I don't think anyone else did either.

John Mutford said...

The puppet show actually does sound good. Reminded me of Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies. Morbidly fun.

Thanks for adding barista to by vocabulary btw.

Allison said...

Puppets!! They actually freak me out a tad. But this production sounds pretty hilarious.

And finding a new coffee place with fab baristas? Score again. We found a place like that in Vancouver, surrounded by numerous art galleries, in a mall-type setting, but it was a sketch part of Van.

Oh, so I'm watching the Grammy's and everyone's favourite quivering banshee comes on (cough James Blunt) and I thought of you and the infamous Blunt attack mask :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I just checked out your link, John. I think you could say there are definite similarities (in sensibilities, anyway). Morbidity can be greatly entertaining.

Puppets don't freak me out near as much as mimes or clowns do, Al, but we are approaching that territory.
That Van coffee place sounds very much like the Palette! I love the ambience at places like that.
LOLZ!! @ everyone's favourite quivering banshee!! That's perfect! I think I need to quote you on that one.

She's Crafty said...

I think I am still reeling from Being John Malkovich, no puppetering from me! Could also be the trauma from Punch n' Judy shows @ Stanley Park.

My coffee experience has been rather dull of late, it's either 711 coffee (french vanilla) or someone goes to Timmy's and I get Milk and 2 sugar.
I was supposed to go for coffee last week before the Of Montreal show, but that turned into predrinks at my sister's. I might be going for coffee w/ Allison on the 20th? We'll see. I will have been to the Shins the night before, so it mostly just depends on if I am dead tired or not. I am going to do my very best;)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I hope you get to go for coffee with Allison, Serah. You been having way too much of a social life, though!

Dale said...

I'm with you on the just above mimes thing but that show does sound cool.

I used to call the live Lion King show the '$100 puppet show' but it wasn't so bad. Then seeing 'Avenue Q' in NY was excellent. It's like a really smart but naughty Sesame Street for adults where the puppeteers are onstage.

Your show sounded interesting and I'd forgotten about the puppets at the start of Being John Malkovich, thanks Johnny Yen.

So now, it's all about puppets.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

$100 Puppet Show - ain't that the truth, Dale? There is a big controversary brewing on an online site where someone has taken exception to the fact that in some live production of the Lion King, the lion is black. Because we all know that lions are white, of course.