Sunday, September 27, 2009

day of the living marionettes!

on saturday my family and i went to see the cashore marionettes at the banff centre. here's the blurb:

A performance by The Cashore Marionettes is a celebration of life. The Cashore Marionettes redefine the art of puppetry through exceptional artistry, grace, and refinement of movement. The performances, stunning in their intensity and simple beauty, have thrilled audiences in Europe, the Far East and across North America. The classic and well-known Simple Gifts expresses themes of beauty, joy, and the wonder of life.

and it lived up to expectations. in fact, the performance surpassed them. it was absolutely engrossing and wonder-full. the boys are still talking about it and, naturally, so am i.

there were a series of short pieces. from the opening piece with a passionate and aged violinist to the final piece, called simple things, about a boy and a kite, we were all transported into an amazing imaginary space. there were other stories of course: a monk discovers a small treasure, a young girl is distracted from her homework by the toys in her room, a mountain climber reaches a summit after much toil and trial, a guitarist cranks his electric guitar to 11, a mother lulls her child to sleep, a horse escapes his pen and explores the countryside, a homeless man looks for a reason to hope, a last-minute replacement trapeze artist conquers his fears.

sure - the marionettes were beautifully made (carved and painted by joseph cashore hisself), but what was truly astounding was the level of articulation of the marionettes and the truthfulness of the characters and their movements. they were alive. wondrous.

there is something about the power of stories and the simplicity of a single character to move people. yes, the lighting was dramatic and yes, the music was moving. and yes, it was interesting when joseph broke the "4th wall" and entered into the performance (which also, oddly enough, didn't destroy the illusion that these characters were independent creatures, with a life of their own). and yes, it was interesting to hear about his passion, commitment and even obsession for his work during the q&a session afterwards (he has invented and created his own mechanisms for manipulating the marionettes).

ultimately, however, you could tell that all he really wants is to convince you of a story. and he wants that story to move you.