Thirst: Memory of Water
by Jane Catherine Shaw
directed by Jane Catherine Shaw
Puppet theater has an uncanny ability to take on big themes, and such will be the case when Jane Catherine Shaw, co-director of the Voice 4 Vision Puppet Festival, takes on world drought in "Thirst: Memory of Water," her newest puppet theater work. It's a big theme, but Shaw is trying to make it manageable by concentrating on themes of women and water because, as she writes, "around the world women are carrying (literally) the burden of maintaining life by walking for water." The play, to be presented by La MaMa March 25 to April 11 in its First Floor Theater, will nevertheless have an epic feeling. The play's narrative is compiled from first-person writings about Ethiopia, China, Bangladesh, Korea, Japan and testimonials from Haiti, Tanzania, and the Jenin Camp on the West Bank. There will also be newspaper accounts from Saudi Arabia, excerpts from the Rig-Veda, Leonardo Da Vinci's Treatise on Water, and Book Six of The Aenead. Texts have been assembled through The Common Language Project (www.clpmag.org), the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, 1h2o.org, WaterAid America (wateraid.org), All China Women’s Federation (www.womenofchina.cn), Voices for Creative Nonviolence (Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator), and from personal recollections of the all women cast. Imagery is created using such "theater magic" as elevated rod puppets with dancing puppeteers, shadow puppets, three-person puppets, a small baby puppet and a duplicate giant inflatable baby puppet, a small hand held vignette (performed in the palm of a puppeteer's hand), and a quasi-toy theater piece depicting the NYC Sand Hogs (who are digging the third giant NYC water tunnel as you read this). Shaw writes, "My use of puppetry is based on how the image/design/gesture/movement communicates--ideas like scale, material, relationship of text and sound to image, or relationship of puppeteer to these puppets--these representations of humans/humanity are the secret power of the puppet, for me."
3/25/2010 at 8:00pm