The Woods, and Out Again
This beautiful and compelling blog post was written by one of our Caught: The Woods collaborators: theater artist & puppeteer, Emmy Bean. We are ecstatic to get in the rehearsal room with them next week to see what they’ve created. In the meantime, these lovely words will have to calm our anticipation.
It is certainly not new to point out how the creative process is a journey into dark, confusing, uncharted wilderness, and how the woods are such an apt metaphor for not only the journey from childhood to adulthood, but from conception to creation. But the woods-as-metaphor became rather pointed for us this week as Joe Mazza and I struggled, director and artist, to hammer our original puppetry concept for Caught: The Woods into working order. I was fixated on remaining true to our chosen form, toy theater; its flatness, miniature figures, proscenium-style puppet stage, and awkward movement are all dear to my heart for its many resonances with drawing on paper, rigidity, yearning to encompass an entire world on a miniature stage, and so on. But as I trudged to Joe’s front door last Wednesday, my heart sank into my shoes. I knew one thing for sure: our woods were not going to look like that. The proscenium was cutting our sight lines. The spaces we’re going to be playing in are too big to accommodate such an intimate form. The toy theater was becoming a source of disconnection, not a nexus. We were beginning to rely on photos and video to fill in the gaps where puppets would not work to tell the story. Nothing was doing what we wanted it to do, and we had to change course.
To make a long story short, we are creating with new fire. Our work is proscenium-less and stripped of its papery flatness, and we are telling our story with new puppets in the light-filled scaffolding of Stan Richardson’s text, powered by the music we have come to love — Jason Charney’s searching and passionate “Ocean Body”, John Elmquist’s jazz-inspired playfulness, the buttoned-up frisson of Haydn’s Tatrai Quartet. We are excited about puppetry again and working in three dimensions instead of two. When I arrive onstage with the venerable Fifth House players, I will be an actor with puppets in the fantasy landscape of the music — part story and part reverie, part meditation and part playful abstraction. Joe and I didn’t know how much our course would change until we saw the forbidding line of trees and thicket looming before us, and when we turned left, we saw home.