ARTS AND CULTURE
By Pamir Kiciman
In August and September, the historic Forest Theatre (open-air amphitheater) in Chapel Hill has played host to the beloved giant puppet show put on for 22 years by Paperhand Puppet Intervention (PPI).
This year’s show is called “The Meanwhile Clock and other Impossible Dances” and it has everything: stilts, playing a famous movie tune on a saw, a dizzying quick-change sequence done giant-puppet-style, illuminated peace lilies and shadow puppets.
Everything—in addition to the giant puppets, that is.
The entire score for the show is a series of original compositions with a full live band, with band members’ singing and speaking voices throughout, as well as foley (everyday sound effects).
Led by co-founders and directors Donovan Zimmerman and Jan Burger, PPI’s new show “is our attempt to dip a toe into the vast and paradoxical theme of time,” wrote Zimmerman in an email to The Local Reporter.
“We were inspired by the story of ‘Momo’ by Michael Ende as a starting point,” Zimmerman explained. “There are somewhat dubious characters in the story called the ‘men in gray’ that, like most capitalist corporations, steal from the future in order to live a larger today. This creates a deficit for our very survival that we feel we must address. We also drew from ‘Bloodtide’ by Eli Nixon, which proposes celebrating new holidays that center [on] amazing creatures like horseshoe crabs.”
As the giant tortoise Cassiopeia sings when it enters the stage, the simple message is: slow down; take your time. And care for the present, so that we can have a future.
The following photos and videos and their captions reveal a little more—but not all. “The Meanwhile Clock” has performances at the Forest Theatre at 123 South Boundary Street on September 16, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m., with a matinee on the 18th at 3 p.m. (Click the link for information and tickets.)
For its final weekend of shows, Paperhand will perform in Raleigh at the North Carolina Museum of Art on September 23, 24 and 25 at 7 p.m. The museum is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road.
Scenes from “The Meanwhile Clock”
All photos, videos and photo collages by Pamir Kiciman.
Dancing Red Knots on stilts. Part of the opening scene, these birds feed on horseshoe crab eggs. (Puppeteers Barb Ford, Maia Derewicz, Sophia Joy and Jan Burger.)
Four Giant Horseshoe Crab puppets strut their stuff. (Crab puppeteers, from front right to back left: Gretchen Adracie, Kelly Washatka, Sophie Coles and Raven Hughes.)
Beppo (Johnny Wargo) plays a classic from the Wizard of Oz on a saw. Can you guess the song? Momo reacts in amazement.
Illuminated peace lilies are hoisted and carried by main characters. Later, they will all go up the stone steps to the top of the theater, stopping with the audience for high fives, bending the lights down to the children and hugging audience members.
Pageantry with a loggerhead turtle, blue horseshoe crabs and stilt-less red knots.
Pageantry around the Triple Goddess.
Mr. Kiciman has a working relationship with Paperhand Puppet Intervention for which he receives compensation. The editor’s decision to assign this story to Mr. Kiciman was made independent of that relationship, instead focusing on Mr. Kiciman’s abilities as a photojournalist and his regular coverage of arts and culture for The Local Reporter.
Correction: On Jan. 12, 2023, this article was updated to reflect that Sophia Joy was the third puppeteer for the opening red knots dance instead of another puppeteer named.
Pamir Kiciman is a writer/poet, artist/artisan, photographer, healer, and meditation teacher. To learn more, visit https://liinks.co/reiki.wordsmith or contact him by email: email@example.com.