The L.A. Puppet Fest continued its April run of puppet shows at The Elephant Stage’s Lillian Theater in Hollywood last night and presented to the audience “Tales of Longing and Belonging.” It was a wholesome, endearing showcase of three stories that were ingeniously simple in their projection of compassion and longing. The Elephant Stage’s Lillian Theater, with it’s uniquely angled perspective on the stage and vacuum-like acoustics, served as the perfect backdrop for the evening’s merriment.
The live band, Cuñao, was a trio of multi-instrumentalist that carried sound waves throughout each story on stage. Cuñao added a multitude of musical textures and narratives that carried each story, from beginning to end. The high and low points in each tale were matched both in pitch and harmony by the trio. Dexterity and their well-rehearsed ‘call-and-response’ heightened the audience’s awareness of the plot.
Layout for all the stories was colorful and made for simplistic transitions of time and space within the tales. The first tale, “Hue” took audience members through a simple, colorful and reflective discovery of the self. Non-fiction and historical anecdotes filled the second performance titled “The Nomad.” In this tale, the layers of symbolism that every culture adds to the idea of “nomads,” can be pulled apart to their most general form. Overtones of emigrating and immigrating to distant lands were contrasted with shadows of towers and massive ships.
The talent of these amateur puppeteers is truly astonishing. Puppetry is a well-respected art form that has a fascinating history. The craftsmanship and preparation, the timing and spacing, and the acting and vocal performance are all, indispensable for a good show. Anyone attempting a path in visual effects must recognize the treasure of remarkable puppeteers who existed long before Jim Henson and Tim Burton. (Although, A Nightmare Before Christmas is playing on repeat somewhere at the time of this publication.)
The L.A. Puppet fest is a continuing effort that will bring these beautiful narratives to any willing audience. This weekend alone, there will be workshops and opportunities to meet professionals in the industry that will provide insight on past methods and future roads in puppetry. For more information, visit www.puppetschool.com.