Friday, September 01, 2006

RadiCackaLacky Puppetry Convergence: Cabaret Performance

I read in the Independent Weekly about the RadiCackaLacky Puppetry Convergence. Quoting from the RadiCackaLacky website, this is "a week-long celebration of radical puppetry -- theater that uses puppets and objects to tell stories of people's hopes, dreams, struggles and victories. ... Puppeteers from all over the U.S. and Canada are converging on Carrboro/Chapel Hill during the final weekend of Paperhand's annual Forest Theater show. There are several programs of puppetry at a number of venues throughout the week. ... We've got hand puppets from outer space, marionettes enacting Greek myths, biographical shadow puppet plays, cardboard cats who chase cardboard mice, and puppet videos about the Apocalypse -- plus live music, crazy costumes, and stuff made from trash! All the programs are cheap or free".

We went tonight to the 9p "latenight cabaret" which lasted past midnight. The published schedule indicates a line up of Jeff McCreight, Wandering Minstrel; Rebecca & Kate, HorseshoeBend; RPM Puppet Conspiracy, The Tiny Cat & The Tiny Mouse; Barbara Cox, WWF Avant Guard Juggling; Legends Walk The Streets, From My Porch; Daniel Lang, Gazelle/Habibi; and Maple Rabbit, "Apocalypse" and other songs. My wife was not crazy about tonight and said that it was unorganized (but enjoyed what we saw the next day), but I thought most of the performances were creative and interesting.

Neither of us liked a piece that a man from New York did (where was the puppetry??) with flash cards entering and being tossed out of a form while he recited a poem. One piece was too long and neither of us understood the point - a man donning different masks to describe a lesson on Chekov.

But we both liked the first piece (From My Porch ?) about reflections of racism in Philadelphia. There was a very clever skit with a woman opening up a number of white umbrellas to surround herself then shine a spotlight through the umbrellas. There was a performance about the environmental degradation that a gas leak caused to a river out west - it was particularly beautiful how the performers described the love story between a rock and the raging water over the years before the enviroment received such an insult.

The master of ceremonies also entertained us. His job was to keep us distracted while the stage was cleared and setup between acts. It was done in an ad hoc manner without closing of curtains; my wife had the impression that it was an "inside show" meant for the puppet troupes to entertain each other with. He put on a number of comical pieces about Frankenstein. As an example, he had somebody come to the stage and wear a Frankenstein mask while the MC narrated a scene in a coffee house. Nobody would serve or even look at the monster, even when he rang a bell to request service. I know that the retelling doesn't sound humorous, but the situational comedy was effective - the MC's narration guided the actions of the volunteer in this and other Frankenstein scenes.

It was a refreshing night - after a lot of hot weather in the high 90°Fs and even into the 100°s, it was a fall-like evening in the 60s and even little cooler. It was enjoyable not just walking to and from the event, but there was a large drum circle outside in the intermission.


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