Catch the Wave!
by Andrew Periale
Trends in Art sweep across the cultural landscape like tidal waves across tropical atolls: The Mersey Sound, Op Art, Performance Art, Disco. Some waves disappear without a trace, some nourish vestigials of cultures in obscure tidal pools, others litter the beach with corpses.
As my partner and I create new work, we usually find ourselves well behind the current wave, often in a different ocean altogether.
Imagine my surprise then when I realized that our own company, Perry Alley Theatre, was " hanging ten"- surfing the wave alongside some of the country's most talented Big Kuhutras. It all started on the internet, when I found the website of Daisy DeBolt. I knew Daisy's music fiom the early 70s, when she was half of the exquisite Canadian folk duo Fraser and DeBolt. She combines a natural musicality with the earthy vocal power of Joplin( Janice, not Scott). Through months of electronic correspondence, we discovered common ground and soon were planning a large-scale international collaboration: puppets, shadows, dance, music and storytelling- a new art form! Or is it?
The l9th century German Romantics had an expression for it: Progressive Universalpoesie- an art form which transcended boundaries of genre ,form,
academic domain.The current wave in puppetry seems to be exhibiting similar aspirations in a number of recent collaborations which synergize diverse cultures, styles, nationalities, and artistic disciplines. Kwuidan integrates the talents of Atlanta's Jon Ludwig, New York's Ping Chong and Japan's Mitsuri Ishii (with the writing of Lafcadio Hearn), Wayang Listrik brings together the work of San Francisco's Larry Reed with Balinese dalang I Wayan Wija, and Dieu!: God, Mother Radio springs from the diverse talents of New York's Roman Paska and France's Massimo Schuster. The process of each of these collaborations is considered in this issue of Puppetry International. Furthermore, each of the programs will be presented at the International Festival of Puppet Theater in New York City this September. In the way that "World Music" has integrated an array of techniques and rhythms from diverse cultures, these new productions create a World Theatre which includes music, movement, performing figures and objects, masks and acting, from realms traditional and nontraditional: Progressive Universalpoesie.
And what will Perry Alley Theatre be performing at the New York festival? Chinese Take-Out Theatre- a solo performance without collaborators, without ties to world cultures, outside of any recognizable theatre traditions. One can't always ride the wave!