INTERSECTIONS: An Artist’s Perspective

On the way to Atlas for one of our shows.

On the way to Atlas for one of our shows.

Life has been a little overwhelming of late, so it’s taken me a few weeks to be able to sit down and collect my thoughts about this year’s INTERSECTIONS festival. Performing there was a fantastic experience and I want to take the time to share a little of what made it such a special event.

Artists, even when working in groups such as orchestras, or dance and theater companies, can feel isolated. It is one of the ironies of being a working artist that you are often too busy with your own projects to have the time (and money) to see other people’s work. To that end, one of the best things about INTERSECTIONS is that it brings all the artists together in one building. Walking around before and after our show, you could hear snippets of music coming from different theaters, classical mixing with jazz mixing with flamenco. In the lobby between shows you could pick out dancers and musicians talking with audience members, everyone making space for the small children running around with their families. The free cafe concerts in the lobby and art activities for children made the space a welcoming one for audiences of all ages and fans of all kinds of art.

Puppets and instruments on tables backstage.

Puppets and instruments on tables backstage.

INTERSECTIONS takes place at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H St. NE and all the staff there worked incredibly hard to make us feel welcome and to encourage us to support each other’s work. While each performance was assigned one of the four ‘roadmaps’ (Sound, Movement, Story or Family) everyone was very enthusiastic and interested to hear about what was going on in other roadmaps and other theater spaces. Meetings, parties, and off site events were opportunities to make connections and learn about music, dance and other arts traditions that were unfamiliar. Serendipitous moments abounded (possibly my favorite was listening to Victoria Vox and Christylez Bacon improvising music together).

The Fabulas Mayas team, toasting a sold out show with cupcakes!

The Fabulas Mayas team, toasting a sold out show with cupcakes!

My one regret was that due to my crowded schedule, I was not able to see more performances by my fellow artists. A huge thank you to festival director Mary Hall Surface, and everyone at Atlas for making this such a wonderful experience. I hope to be back again another year!

Intersections Photos

Performing at the 2014 Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival was an absolutely incredible experience. I’m hoping to write more fully about it soon, but in the meantime, here are some photos I took over the past two weekends.

Setting up the screen in Lab 2.

Setting up the screen in Lab 2.

Puppets waiting on the floor.

Puppets waiting on the floor.

Puppets and instruments on tables backstage.

Puppets and instruments on tables backstage.

View of the pyramid and screen from the audience.

View of the pyramid and screen from the audience.

The Fabulas Mayas team, toasting a sold out show with cupcakes!

The Fabulas Mayas team, toasting a sold out show with cupcakes!

 

 

January Grab Bag

A roundup of events and people we highlighted on Twitter this month: 

Giant flower from Under the Canopy.

Giant flower from Under the Canopy. See item #5.

1. The Kennedy Center is hosting a World Stages Festival this March and there will be PUPPETS! Handspring Puppet Company,  that created War Horse, is working on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes from Canada is doing a show called Penny Plain. There will be puppets on display at the Kennedy Center that you can see for free. So yes. You should go.

2. Puppetry and activism are two of our favorite things. So even though we haven’t actually met in person, we’re big fans of The People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street. Hopefully one day we’ll get to work on something with them and maybe it will even involve giant puppet drops of water, like the ones you can see on their Facebook page.

3. All DC puppet fans should check out The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorerplaying at the Artisphere in Rosslyn from February 6-9. This is a heartwarming story about a deep-sea explorer in search of lost love, told through a combination of sound, puppetry and animation. Created by Weeping Spoon Productions from Perth, Australia, I saw this at the Edinburgh Fringe back in August and am looking forward to seeing it again.

4. Puppets in Prague is an amazing place to learn about marionettes (I did a workshop with them back in 2011) and they have a whole bunch of workshops going on this year. If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Prague (and really, why wouldn’t you be?) check them out.

5. Have we mentioned that we’re going to be at the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival this year? With not one, but TWO shows? March will be here before you know it, so you should get moving and buy tickets for our pieces Under the Canopy and Fabulas MayasWith folktales, shadow puppets, and rainforest creatures, you really can’t go wrong!

Announcing INTERSECTIONS 2014!

IntersectionslogoWe are thrilled to announce that BOTH our collaborative projects this year will be presented as part of the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival 2014!

Under the Canopy by Arts on the Horizon and Fabulas Mayas, co-produced with GALA Hispanic Theatre will each have multiple performances as part of the fifth year of INTERSECTIONS. This festival seeks to connect the broadest possible audience with the most exciting new ways of making community-inspiring art. With performances for all ages and audiences, from music to dance to circus to storytelling and new plays, there is truly something for everyone. Tickets go on sale January 9, so we hope you will join us at Atlas Performing Arts Center on H St. NE from February 21-March 8 to see our shows and some of the other amazing work at the festival. As we get closer, we will have more information here or you can also check out the festival website.

Website Update

Shaper (Jose Pineda) and Creator (Bob Sheire) bring animals to life in FABULAS MAYAS. Photo by Lonnie Dale Tague.

Shaper (Jose Pineda) and Creator (Bob Sheire) bring animals to life in FABULAS MAYAS.             Photo by Lonnie Dale Tague.

Just a quick note here on some changes around the website that you might want to take a look at! We have new video up on the Cabinets of Kismet page, so if you didn’t get to see the show, check that out for some highlights. If you didn’t get to see our show Fabulas Mayas, it now has its own page, with photos.  We have some new additions to our Friends and Family page; people who have great work and cool projects that you can support. Finally, on our Education page there are new descriptions of the workshops we offer to schools and community groups. If you are interested in having us come to your school, please send us an email!

Library Connections for Fabulas Mayas

Many of the stories in the show came from this collection.

Many of the stories in the show came from this collection.

I wrote the show Fabulas Mayas because I wanted to share some of the rich oral traditions among the Maya people of Mexico and Central America. While these stories are nowhere near as widespread and familiar as European folktales, they often follow similar patterns and are humorous and entertaining. Most of our work at Wit’s End Puppets is inspired by stories and artists that you can find easily at any library or bookstore. If you saw Fabulas Mayas and are interested in learning more, or if you just like stories and sharing them, here are some resources to look for at the DC Public Library.

Source for some of the stories of Fabulas Mayas:

The Monkey’s Haircut and other stories told by the Maya by John Bierhorst

Other Latin-American stories and story collections:

People of Corn by Mary-Joan Gerson

Tales our Abuelitas Told by F. Isabel Campoy & Alma Flor Ada

The Hungry Woman: myths and legends of the Aztecs by John Bierhorst

Señor Cat’s Romance by Lucia Gonzalez

Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales

Once Upon a Time/Habia una vez by Reuben Martinez

A Day in the Life of Fabulas Mayas

Here are some photos giving you the backstage view before and during the show Fabulas Mayas at GALA Hispanic Theatre. We have one more public performance tomorrow at 3pm! 

Getting ready in the dressing room, that's Bob Sheire and Carol Spring.

Getting ready in the dressing room, that’s Bob Sheire and Carol Spring.

Bob making faces at his Creator headdress.

Bob making faces at his Creator headdress.

The view backstage, with the shadow screen, puppet tables and masking.

The view backstage, with the shadow screen, puppet tables and masking.

A few shadow puppets that are too big for tables wait on the floor, along with costumes.

A few shadow puppets that are too big for tables wait on the floor, along with costumes.

Our projector! Source of all light and backgrounds!

Our projector! Source of all light and backgrounds!

The shadow screen, with a glimpse of one of the gorgeous backgrounds painted by Amy Kellett.

The shadow screen, with a glimpse of one of the gorgeous backgrounds painted by Amy Kellett.

Three-fourths of the cast of Fabulas Mayas (Cecilia was taking the picture). From the left, Carol, Jose and Bob.

Three-fourths of the cast of Fabulas Mayas (Cecilia was taking the picture). From the left, Carol, Jose and Bob.