Friday, May 31, 2013

Park Puppetry

Didm’t the discovery that grandmother was a wolf make Little Red Riding Hood realize that the wolf ate Grandma, then the wolf chased Little Red Riding Hood and was killed by huntsmen? The new marionettes version has a genetically modified wolf escaping from a laboratory in search of cup cakes, and Little Red Riding Hood not noticing grandma is a wolf because she keeps checking her smart phone; grandma returns, a lesson is learned and the puppets dance in glee.
In the 21st century, Grimm is not so grim. Fairy tales I guess are the opposite of comic super heroes; they don’t get darker with each re-boot. Little Red Riding Hood has been reinterpreted by child psychologists and the positive reinforcement police... Why not? The world is depressing enough; let’s keep that fact from the young. Why rub truth in a face as early as possible’ what is the harm with postponement. Why the rush to diminish happiness? Why encourage pre-adolescent nihilism, they’ll get enough cynicism when they become teenagers. Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that fairy tales were cruel, nasty and short, puppetry was punch and judy and you could buy nickel bags in Washington Square Park.  

Summer jumped us with the sudden viciousness of a wolf pack. One day we were wondering weather or not to wear a sweat shirt under the jacket, the next we’re thinking of sipping ice cold lemonade and picking banjos on the porch while exposing our pallid knees and elbows to the sun. Events in city parks spring up and I caught some mobile puppetry in Washington Square. The story was Little Red Riding Hood. The story was pre-recorded and the puppets and their masters basically performed an elaborate pantomime to the track. The stage looked like animation, and the puppets seemed TV familiar, but also like marionettes, stiff and jerky, wooden yet life-like, like Pinocchio, in keeping with the puppetry tradition.  It was old and new, reimagined yet a perfect balance of quaint and contemporary. And while really cute, I couldn’t help but imagine – Team America: The Broadway Musical!

It was fun, well thought out. The kids were engaged, entertain, especially the younger ones.  Cities are family friendly, wasn’t always that way. The nights are made for lovers, but the days are made for everyone. In other parts of the park, there were guitars, somebody reciting a Shakespeare, a mime on unicycle juggling bowling pins and here, a gathering of children, toddlers, the stroller-bound, some pre-K trying to pretend they’re a little bored. Resistance to marionettes proved futile.



No comments:

Post a Comment