ARTICHOKE HEART COLLECTIVE BENDS TIMEPIECES INTO PUPPETS
Time is a really sad thing. The story of the old lady alone with time? That's a sad story. And it can be done to death (pardon the pun) if we're not careful about sentimentalizing age too much, too typically. How do we, as young writers, write for older characters without reducing them down to just their age and the stigma we've attached to their demographic? After watching Artichoke Heart Collective's current Fringe entry, Cirqular, I believe I've been taught a lesson or two. Though the agony and inertia of old age and the sprite confusion of young age is superbly demonstrated, it's done so with the use of out-of-this-world puppets that I have never seen anything like, a twist of enchantment, a powerful dose of delight that stirs the audience member into suddenly wanting to be a part of her life. Is it because she's adorable? Or is it because we have all of a sudden access into the details, the little magical happenings of her world. We see what she sees. The inventiveness of the production turns her imagination in on us and suddenly, she's not so tragic and scary-old-lady-like. Suddenly she's a hero. That's real writerly magic, as far as I can tell. That's actual creative intuition.
We caught up with Artichoke Heart and they told us their story in beautiful summary:
"Cirqular tells the story of twin sisters one of whom has, to the dismay of the other, discovered a way to cheat death by turning back the clock (literally) one full day, every day, on the eve of their fateful end. Over years of reliving the same day again and again, the sisters grew apart. One built an industrial empire around a clock manufacturing plant; the other retreated to the fringes to live in the simplicity of the natural world and try to find within its biology a way to put an end to her misery.
A young bird-like girl, Apple, is born to this world. Both elderly women are immediately drawn to her, each seeing the potential Apple has to help them on their individual missions. Seeking a place to fit in, Apple attempts to exist in both communities, looking for guidance and acceptance from both women. In her search for a home, a slew of responsibility is heaved onto Apple’s shoulders: the burden of carrying on the dreams of her elders....On an individual scale, this story is about the struggle of a young person trying to find her place in a world created by a generation that sees the world very differently. In our society we are faced with the immense pressure to fit in, to please our families and/or communities, to accomplish something spectacular in life. How can we be present and respond to our immediate environment while developing a vision for the future?"
With their stunning hand-made puppets and the endearingly brilliant physical and vocal efforts of the cast, the collective has done what writers everywhere intend to do all the time: They've given insight, given a new way in to an often overlooked perspective. They've turned one woman's life into a whole world on stage, something that we can participate in and relate to. Artichoke Heart Collective seeks to "explore primal humanity" and, with this piece, I believe they've accomplished just that. The emotions, reactions, idiosyncracies, instantaneous happenings in one woman's world drove the show. The show is really a demonstration of instigations and ther resulting processes, of beginnings and middles and ends. Audience members were leaning forward in their seats to watch an egg hatch or a critter climb a tree or a bird-creature learn to walk. We watch as things happen through time and as time happens to things. The show is propelled by live music, recorded sound effects and a wide array of puppets, most made from time pieces, some molded from fabric all gorgeously impressive. I swear, at one point, the man behind me even uttered "that's so cool" as we watched in delight as a little puppet rode around on a little segway on the ground.
Artichoke Heart Collective is a company dedicated to creating object-based puppetry. They are premiering Cirqular this year at the Toronto Fringe. Their piece from last year's Montreal Fringe, We Walk Among You, their first full length show, will be mounted at the Tarragon Extraspace this coming fall.
For more information on their work visit their website or go see them at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival!
CHECK IT OUT
Cirqular is playing at the Tarragon Extraspace in the Toronto Fringe Festival
July 03 at 11:00 PM
July 05 at 05:15 PM
July 06 at 08:45 PM
July 08 at 01:15 PM
July 09 at 03:30 PM
July 10 at 09:15 PM
July 13 at 01:45 PM