“Watch as everyday objects, take life and lead you into their fantastical world.”
“A joy for all ages, mixing the magic of fairytales with the dynamic world of found-object puppetry.”
Created by: Megan Campisi, Kevin Lapin, Caroline Reck, Elisa Matula and Adrian Gillot. Original music by Thomas Merlan.
In Brementown the magic and metaphors of the original Grimm’s fairytale are just the beginning. The classic themes of the original story, getting old and the value of idealism find new relevance in the trials of our endearing hero: an arthritic donkey -who loves and trusts his owner- but who is too old to earn his keep. When he catches wind that he’s outlived his usefulness he takes to the road to avoid ending up in an Alpo can. He’s soon joined by a septuagenarian cat who would prefer a nice pension and some sleep to chasing mice and the trio is completed by a fearful rooster who can read his fate in the cookbooks that compose his own body.
With this ominous beginning, our cast of innocent-but-aged hopefuls embark on the dark road to Brementown. But don’t worry, they’ve got a plan: they’re forming a band and are sure that fame and fortune await them as musicians in the big city. Who knows whether the people of Brementown city will be entertained by our trio, but this new play by an international company of Lecoq graduates is sure to entertain audiences both young and old alike.
When the brothers Grimm collected oral tales and set them down in print, they simplified the stories and recast them into morality tales to meet their didactic ends. Bremen-Town Musicians has retained more the character of the original oral tales: the story doesn’t have a prescriptivedonkey moral framework that serves as a reference point for the characters and their actions. There is no young Jack learning the ways of the world or Little Red Riding Hood getting a lesson in obeying her elders. Our protagonists aren’t young. They do undergo trials and they do win the day, but it is in spite of themselves. So what is the lesson? With our production it’s not about what happens if you’re good or bad, but how to negotiate morally ambiguous lives –an inquiry with modern relevance.
The original story, like most fairytales, works with layers of meaning. Our performance style therefore needed to reflect this, and object-puppetry does just that. Since the puppets are everyday items that we know and relate to, they are loaded with associations and cultural significance. The object chosen for a given character thus informs how we see that character: a cat made from a woman’s handbag and all its contents will evoke at times the panacea of mom’s purse, and then the vanity and mask of make-up and still later a woman’s intimacy and secrets.
I like object puppetry because it takes the audience beyond the mundane through the mundane. And because on so many levels, it is engaging. The constellation of objects that create each character are not physically held together like traditional marionettes: there is negative space between body parts. The audience instinctively fills in the gaps thus provoking the imagination and allowing the audience to participate in the creation of each character. In the same way, we tell the story, less in words than in action, image and sound. The audience is once again invited to take part, putting the images together and unfolding the story for themselves.
From the perspective of a performer, I also love object puppetry because the characters often require more than one puppeteer to manipulate them. Creating character movements that are fluid and natural is a question of group precision, coordination and collective intuition. Also, the relation between performer and audience fascinates me. Present at all times alongside the puppet, the puppeteer is completely visible, and yet not the focus. Performing becomes an exploration of the shadowy space between object and character, actor and audience, creating a new relationship, mediated by puppets.
Most importantly, the puppets are all made from objects that the audience has access to at home, meaning the performance doesn’t end when the curtain falls. After seeing Brementown, the whole world becomes a place for transformation, creation and performance. I remember the first time I saw object puppetry: it was a quite serious piece on the subject of child abuse; looking around the theater I thought, how bizarre an audience of forty adults brought to tears by a handkerchief and piece of newspaper. After that I saw puppets everywhere I went. No one wanted to invite me out to dinner anymore beacuse I was sure to start playing with food.
Puppetry is an art form that for many in the West is synonymous with Les Guignols or the Muppets. These at least remain references of quality but not of artistic value. Our goal is to get untraditional styles of puppets out of the closet, off the table and onto the stage.
–Megan Campisi, Director, Brementown