First day at the 2011 Charleville festival

Author: ; Published: Sep 18, 2011; Category: Puppet festivals, Travel, Uncategorized; Tags: , ; No Comments

Bruja in the plaza with child

Curious – other than here in Charleville it often seems to us that puppets don’t exist, and here, with the city completely taken by puppeteers and puppets, it gives us the illusion that the world is filled with puppets. What a contrast: all or nothing.

On the first day of the Festival we saw Paul Zaloom, the only other puppeteer from the US, in a one-man show entitled “The Adventures of White Man”. ( It was fantastic to see how one person, alone on the stage, with no “technique” and just using found objects could create an ironic, funny, critical story. He spoke in a mixture of English and fractured French – and he captivated the entire audience. He allowed himself to be taken by his imagination to very crazy places and put the audience in the same trance-like state. The audience then became more than just spectators… we were complicit in the event.

After such a great event, we ran through the streets to get to the next show, billed as “a monument to puppeteering, a masterpiece of puppets”. A play from Handspring Puppet Company from South Africa in the “Teatre Principal”, the largest and most “important” space of the town. We had to fight to stay awake.. boring and pretentious… and of course, all the “authorities” of the festival were present for this opening show. In puppets, it seems that once your troupe has a great reputation, you feel empowered to create BIG shows (and this show had a huge set that filled the stage) without any of the grace that puppets can carry.

One has to be very careful in the equilibrium between technique and aliveness.. technique can easily kill aliveness. When you see a show like this, everything is perfect, correct, but you are not moved or transformed, nothing has entered inside you… there has not been communion between you and the play… you were not part of the ritual and you leave the same as you entered. Technique cannot be just in machinery, it can be found in the acting and movement of the puppets, or in the beautiful way that actors and dancers move on the stage.

The plaza as always is filled with people, puppeteers, good humor, everybody enjoying the events.


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