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UPCOMING AS OF FEBRUARY 14, 2017
"Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom" is a puppet play written and directed by Vit Horejs which weaves Czech fairy tales into a play for four puppeteers and an ensemble of antique Czech puppets. A charcoal burner's son, predestined by his fairy godmother to marry a princess, is sent by his angered father-in-law King on a quest for the sun's three golden hairs in hope that the young man will perish. Resolving three more difficult tasks along the way, he returns with rich rewards. Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., will present the work February 16 to March 5, 2017.
Accompanying the production, on Saturdays at 3:00 PM (Feb. 18 & 25, March 4), Vit Horejs will perform "The Winter Tales," a play for one puppeteer based on three Czech fairy tales, replete with mountain wizards, clever village maidens and spirits. Its running time is :55 and critics are invited to all performances.
Both productions are recommended for theatergoers of all ages, but "The Winter Tales" is scheduled for Saturday matinees in order to be especially convenient for younger audiences (4 to 104).
Vit Horejs, founder of Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater, attributes much of his theatrical orientation to the drama of fairy tales his Czech grandmother told him. Folksy and wise, Aesopian and Grimm-like, they provide a rich trove of source material for Puppet Theater. Horejs' approach, though, it not to simply enact the stories, but to mix-and-match them in new and sometimes intrepid combinations. These projects are devised to adapt a selection of his grandmother's tales into material for his ensemble of antique Czech puppets, the core of which were found in a closet at the Jan Hus Church on East 74th Street in 1990.
In "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom," two fairy tales will be framed by an unresolved mystery of a youngest brother who is turned into a deer. At the end of the play, the audience will vote to decide whether he will be freed from his spell or condemned to hibernate for the next four years. (The vote is not rigged, this time.) The actor/puppeteers are Deborah Beshaw-Farrell, Michelle Beshaw, Vit Horejs and Ben Watts. Music will be a capella Czech folk songs. The set, by Roman Hladik, is built from spiraling coils of forest vines.
In "The Winter Tales," the fairy tales are: "The Snow Maiden Snehurka," in which a childless couple find a little girl in a winter blizzard; "The Twelve Months," in which an orphaned girl is sent to fetch strawberries from the forest in the middle of a blizzard and meets twelve kind men representing the twelve months, and "Salt Over Gold," a Czech version of the Slovak tale that is staged in "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom."
IF YOU GO
The occasion of The Dark Lady Players' performance of "Shakespeare's Anti-Christian satires: The Virgin Mary Parodies" gave us the opportunity to investigate how Elizabethan Meta-Theater could be enacted with contemporary puppet theater.
So we asked John Hudson, the theorist and dramaturg of The Dark Lady Players, to illuminate the possibilities. We learned, in short, that all puppetry is metatheatrical but not all metatheater is puppetry.
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