Tess Elliot comes this first GSW9 Festival report...
Howdy! Well it was just delightful! The Finnish piece was unexpectedly mysterious and moving: the leader, told the story line in English and sang in Finnish--a lovely sounding language, I might add. They were very creative with lights, and even their costumes. They come out to the stage like fairies from under "the Earth" and perform, at some points even using their costumes as mini sets, projecting images onto the cloth. The first swamp song was about trying to find a mate, and the second about the end of childhood for a child in WWII, whose only family horse drowned in the swamps. It is hard for us to realize how devastating it is to be in a war and then lose your only work animal so that the plowing and hauling had to be done by hand. It was lovely.Later, Tess sent this with more photos (see the above link which takes you to a slideshow of all her photos...)
The second was Little Blue Moon Theatre and they might have a video on YouTube (the festival did not want me to film during performances). I wish they had, just because it would draw people out to the festival--they were not sold out that I could tell and it's dicey getting home on the subway now with all the service cuts. The Mutiny on the Bounty is accompanied by the male part of the team (Michael Nelson) playing a ukelele, singing and some harmonica with their lyrics to the tunes of popular songs like Gilligan's Island and the Beach Boys. It was beautifully done--the sets were gorgeous and fun. I like not seeing the puppeteer (Valerie Nelson) because it's rather distracting, though she sang harmony and added some sound effects from behind the facade. We even started singing along. They were just wonderful.
The third performance was strange: the Devil (Blair Thomas) in black with a fake naked butt and pointy tail (which gets discarded at one point) tells the Biblical story of Jonah in a soapbox fashion. He wears music hall style makeup and speaks with a lovely Shakespearean voice which is at odds with the unfolding home-made set he carries and his very homemade Devil glove/hand. A fun surprise is that the characters are cut out sketches like scribbles--all black slashes of lines that were kind of arty and fun.
In addition, before the shows were mini shows in the exhibit area only there wasn't enough time to see all of them, let alone film any. I ended up a volunteer for the [Alphabet Arts] Toy Poets Theater show. Me and a gentleman stood on either side of the stage and played with boxing robots while the woman--I think she was Amber West--recited poetry. I won three out of four--she always stopped when one of us knocked the head up which is a win. It was odd but funny. I wanted to see Kate Brehm's piece but we got ushered out to see the main shows before I could get back there. All these performers were doing five minute shows...but they didn't start until 9:30. There were several very funny ones and one young man not on the program who did his own version of Shadow Puppetry which was stunning. I will find out who he was tomorrow, because I assume he made the stage, too.
Here are pics of what I thought was the pre-show (sunset on the East River) and a few more of the toy theatres. It is really hard to get good pics as there isn't a lot of good lighting for the sets. I am wanting to invent little LED spotlights just to see the doggone stages. There were some places where I could brace my hands, but I can't use the low light setting because it flashes. It did better than my bigger SLR camera! Am thinking that the best small toy theatre performances were where the puppeteers actually were hidden (only Little Blue Moon did that), or the puppeteers were almost part of the show (the Bare Minimum Theatre). I am going to try to find them again and see if I can take their picture. It was hard to know who the people were. There was one show by Leslie Rogers and Zac Palladino that was attractive, though I found them both kind of distracting (he played guitar and she was the puppeteer who also spoke, wearing a little black dress). The story was about flying foxes who ate baby birds (real flying foxes are fruit eaters--I am a bat fan) so I felt rather confused about the story even though visually it was very pretty to watch. All in all it was mesmerizing, and Saturday I will be there ALL DAY! Am seeing the Family Program at 11, and the symposium at 1pm. If it rains, I will have to go home until the 10pm show and thank heavens that is the last late one. I don't like to be out and about after 1am!
It was supposed to be stormy last night but ended up beautiful so maybe I will luck out tomorrow. I couldn't get anyone to go with me, though I think Justyn may come tomorrow night. There just aren't a lot of people who imagine it being fun, but it was really delightful and funny--if also eccentric and odd.
It will take all afternoon to upload the video of walking through part of the exhibit.