No As You Like It today… but not to worry, gentles, I do have something for you. And with apologies to Monty Python, it’s something completely different.
Yesterday, I found this article on a new production that’s taking place in Minnesota…
It’s a production of Measure for Measure using a combination of live actors and life-sized bunraku-styled puppets. As the article states,
Most of the characters in the show are performed by traditional actors. But a select few are portrayed by life-sized puppets — a literary device Seham used years ago the first time she directed “Measure for Measure.”
The puppets are giant, moving metaphors of manipulation, brought to life by stealthily clothed actors standing behind them.
Now given the sexual and gender politics in the play, it’s a pretty damned cool metaphor, if you ask me. But it was the inclusion of another photo in the article that struck me dumb.
Either that’s the most realistic bunraku puppet I’ve ever seen or that’s a live actor made up to look like a puppet, next to an actor not made up to look like a puppet. And that’s brilliant.
And it gets me thinking… oh, you knew it would, that should come as no shocker.
What about other plays in which manipulation plays such a large role? Say, Othello? or better yet–Macbeth? What if you used puppets to designate those characters who are under supernatural control? What if Macdonwald and his forces were controlled by the witches as part of the long con to get Macbeth to the throne? You could then show Macbeth’s battlefield prowess in a shockingly visceral way as prelude to the play proper… I keep thinking of the description of Macbeth killing the enemy soldier–“unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops, // And fixed his head upon our battlements”–I mean, YOU COULD ACTUALLY SEE THAT ON STAGE. The bizarre physicalization of the witches themselves might be well-served with a bunraku representation as well. If you have Lady M under supernatural control, she could still be played by a live actor, only with the puppetry metaphor (and maybe she cuts loose those strings in her final appearance on stage, ripping free before her sleepwalking scene)… Mackers himself might go through the same evolution, stringless, then controlled, then breaking free for his final duel with Macduff. Oh, and what if when we see Malcolm take the the throne he’s now wearing the strings of a puppet… only to have above him, giving blessing to the ascension, Donalbain, holding a cross in both hands…crosses that, as the lights fade, drop strings from the ends of each cross?
[as you can tell, this is coming stream-of-consciousness-style… most of this, I’m sure is half-baked at best, but man, the possibilities are very VERY cool…]