A weekend away (Days 88, 89, 90/365)

It’s Sunday evening, and I haven’t posted since Thursday. This is because Ginny and I went to a bed & breakfast in Marietta on Friday and have been incommunicato since then. This also means my creative output has been minimum, needless to say.

However, the weekend was not a total loss. On Saturday night, we went to the Center for Puppetry Arts to see The Ghastly Dreadfuls’ Compendium of Graveyard Tales and Other Curiosities, by Jon Ludwig and Jason von Hinezmeyer. This was partly because none of the theatres were playing anything I thought would interest us, and partly because I wanted to see what state-of-the-art puppetry looked like these days. In other words, I was looking for ideas to steal for William Blake.

The show was absolutely amazing. Even Ginny, who complained beforehand that she had always found marionettes to be creepy, was won over by the dazzling creativity in the production. There were marionettes (some creepy, some not), rod puppets, bunraku puppets, stop-action animation, and live action (a cast of seven, three of whom were the orchestra as well as narrators). The Ghastly Dreadfuls sang, danced, and told us stories, and it was a really, really fun show.

So what did I steal? Well, not so much steal as gain inspiration. (It won’t be stealing until we actually use it, right?) First of all, I was reminded of the power of puppetry, the way we can alter reality on stage, very cinematically, through the use of puppets. For example, in an adaptation of “Three at Table,” by W. W. Jacobs (he of “The Monkey’s Paw”), the sailor narrator (live actor) opened sewing a sail, which stretched out and became the snow-covered landscape across which the tiny bunraku puppet narrator trudged. It formed uphill treks, deepened as the snow continued to fall, and stretched out upstage to form a perspective when he encountered a villager in the snow, and then shrank back as he resumed his journey. The light in the distance, once he had decided to take refuge there against the advice of the villager, simply rolled down from upstage, revealing a cottage that grew as it moved into the light. Once inside, the action was taken over by the actor and two other actors wearing masks for their roles.

Other highlights: the scrolling series of panels in the lurid comic-book setting of “The Girl in the New Dress,” with witty uses of flat cutouts on sticks: hands, mirrors, knives. The door to Mark Twain’s cold apartment in “A Ghost Story” suddenly bending and bulging and oozing smoke as the ghost of the Cardiff Giant approached. This was in addition to the ragged curtains of the room extending themselves into ghostly claws as he slept. The skeleton in “Danse Macabre” which dis- and reassembled itself in mid-air. And so much more.

In reading over the CPA’s website for upcoming events, I came across this. Anyone else interested?

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