Ronnie Burkett: Director, Designer and Puppet Builder
Jesse Beyers: Assistant Director and Associate Puppet Builder
Melissa Dunphy: Composer
Produced by Jean Marie Keevins for Little Shadow Productions
All photos by Richard Termine
Mid-career and established puppeteers were especially of interest to me for this piece, as well as puppeteers with considerable live puppet theatre performing experience. Together, we created perhaps a new vocabulary of marionette manipulation, with the strings of the figures not attached to one control, but rather, passed between the puppeteers separately. The resulting community manipulation allowed the figures to crawl, dance, float in romance, fly, and ultimately climb a wall of roses in a final moment of ascension.
CRAVE is poetry in motion...
It is life's journey
The National Puppetry Conference at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center was a perfect sandbox to play outside of our own practice, to take artistic risks that may not be available in our own focus and careers, and to refresh our individual aesthetic and approach to the art form. Originally created in The Rufus and Margo Rose Theater Barn, CRAVE further allowed us to play with how theater is viewed, by removing seating in the venue, allowing the audience to self-adjust throughout the performance. The intimacy created between the audience and the performers and the work itself was authentic and powerful.
I have long said, I would not call myself an artist until I was able to create a piece of work that could only be felt, not discussed. With CRAVE, I now call myself an artist.
RONNIE BURKETT (Director) has been captivated by puppetry since the age of seven, when he opened the World Book Encyclopedia to “Puppets”. He began touring his puppet shows around Alberta at the age of fourteen and has been on the road ever since.
Recognized as one of Canada’s foremost theatre artists, Ronnie Burkett has been credited with creating some of the world’s most elaborate and provocative puppetry. Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes was formed in 1986 and has stimulated an unprecedented adult audience for puppet theatre, continuously playing to great critical and public acclaim on Canada’s major stages, and as a guest company on numerous international tours abroad. Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes is currently in its 32nd year of touring.
Ronnie has received numerous awards in the Canadian theatre as a playwright, actor and designer for his work with Theatre of Marionettes, including the 2009 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, The Herbert Whittaker Drama Bench Award for Outstanding Contribution to Canadian Theatre, and international recognition including a Village Voice OBIE Award in New York for Off-Broadway Theatre, The GLAAD Award for Outstanding Theater, Broadway/Off-Broadway, and four Citations of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionnette.
Ronnie is currently in his sixth sold-out touring season of the highly acclaimed and wildly popular The Daisy Theatre. This thirteenth production from Theatre of Marionettes follows the international successes Penny Plain, Billy Twinkle, 10 Days on Earth, Provenance and the “Memory Dress Trilogy” of Tinka’s New Dress, Street of Blood and Happy. In 2017, Little Dickens premiered in Vancouver, and in 2019, Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes will premiere a new audience-interactive production, Forget Me Not.
New York’s The Village Voice has said, “Ronnie Burkett is one of the world’s geniuses…seeing his troupe every few years has just become a necessity of civilized theatergoing.”
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I was interested in exploring a new way to be onstage with puppets; a shift in focus where we play with stripping away the steely gaze of the visible manipulator, allowing both puppet and puppeteer a more authentic shared space, and a true acknowledgement of the audience as integral to the performance.
My intention was to set a new work on a company of fourteen puppeteers manipulating two figures and the environment they live in, resulting in a non-verbal finished piece titled CRAVE (cradle/grave). One figure rising from the grave and journeying to mid-life, the other being born and traveling forward, until both meet in the middle. Simple themes of growth, loss, love, togetherness and loneliness were my markers in these journeys.
Crave was developed at the National Puppetry Conference
at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut
under the Artistic Direction of Pam Arciero.