|Green Fools lay a blackbirds egg
THE BLACKBIRD PUPPET PROJECT
Runs until May 20
The premise for Green Fools latest offering, The Blackbird Puppet Project, is based on a very clever "what if?" question. What would happen if a blackbird laid two eggs, one ending up in a condors roost while the other lands in a humans egg basket?
"We came up with the idea when we were touring the The Great Western Bricks and Earth Circus in Northern Alberta last summer," says Dean Bareham, Green Fools co-artistic director and a principal member of the shows artistic collective. "There were blackbirds and crows all over the place."
"We got home and started researching and we discovered that the cow bird, which is a type of blackbird, is considered a parasitic bird because it lays its eggs in other birds nests," says Jennie Esdale, also a key member of the shows collective. "So some poor little sparrow is left to raise a big, black bird!"
The tale, which is told by two puppeteers, features marionettes, hand puppets, rod puppets and mask and stilt characters. The Blackbird Puppet Project tackles several heavyweight themes, such as diversity and acceptance, identity, extinction and the environment. Dean promises, though, that the show doesnt "bang anyone over the head with environmental issues."
Green Fools worked for nine months to develop this 50-minute piece. "We knew we wanted to go international," says Dean. "That meant the show couldnt be dependent on language. We knew we had to create a story without language."
Jennie finishes the thought by adding, "So that meant having a great sound designer. Dave Clarke is a genius."
Calgary audiences will likely remember Clarkes provocative sound design for Sage Theatres Polygraph earlier this theatre season or from his recent live score for The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. The Blackbird Puppet Project sounds like a very juicy gig for a sound designer since its scored from beginning to end.
Writing a script devoid of spoken word is also a beefy endeavour for a playwright. About two years ago, the Green Fools and Edmonton playwright Chris Craddock knew they wanted to work together. Avid Calgary theatregoers may recall Craddocks Guys in Disguise contribution to this years High Performance Rodeo, Men are Stoopid, Women are Cra-azy. With its heady themes and linguistic challenges, The Blackbird Puppet Project offered the perfect opportunity for Craddock and the Green Fools to collaborate and create something really special.
"Doing a show without language really pushed us to be very clean," comments Jennie. "We think it made for a more thorough and developed show."
After the Calgary run, the Green Fools hit the asphalt for a six-week tour that will take them to Mississauga, Sylvan Lake, Brandon, Regina, Edmonton and parts of the United States. Dean would also like to take the show to New Zealand and Australia where there is currently a campaign to destroy all blackbirds because they ravage farmland.
"Id love to go to Africa," says Jennie dreamily. "There is a huge bird sanctuary over there."
The Blackbird Puppet Project opens at Crump Manor (1046-18 Avenue S.E.) May 4 and runs until May 20. Performances happen Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $8/10 for adults and $6/8 for children. Book tickets by calling 237-9010.