Gottingen, Germany

By Taylor, Nicole Estvanik | American Theatre, February 2011 | Go to article overview

Gottingen, Germany


Taylor, Nicole Estvanik, American Theatre


Gottingen, Germany

GOTTINGER FIGURENTHEATERTAGEN: Among the 17 (mostly German) puppet theatres at this 26-year-old festival will be Dorncrei Theater of Neustadt and Nuremberg's Fantasie Theater, combining forces to stage Melodien mit Marionetten, in which puppets perform music ranging from Puccini to Andrew Lloyd Webber to 1920s popular ditties. In a similarly entertaining vein, Ambrella Figurentheater of Hamburg's Heute: Genoveva traces and celebrates the history of the 19th-century traveling puppeteer in Germany. That company also puts on its version of the familiar tale of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse--but where Aesop cast the titular rodents as cousins who couldn't see eye to eye, artists Heike Klockmeier, Dietmar Staskowiak, Jurgen Maafien and Kristiane Balsevicius have envisioned them as an opposites-attract married couple.

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Figurentheater Marmelock of Hannover presents a stylized marionette version of Sneewittchen (Snow White) and Dorftheater Siemitz injects circus hijinks into Die drei kleinen Schweinchen (Three Little Pigs). Hannover's Filou Fox Figurentheater draws on the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Figurentheater Gingganz of Meensen spins a yarn from of the age-old question "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" (In this case, it's an existentially unsettled hen who wants to know.) Speaking of birds, Keiner Vogel,flieg (Little Bird, Fly) by Theater Laku Paka of Kaufungen depicts a fledgling whose bravery and wits make up for his underdeveloped wings. And, speaking of existentialism, Thalias Kompagnons of Nuremberg has adapted Kafka's Das Schloss (The Castle).

Winning the prize, perhaps, for darkest show of the festival is Australian puppeteer Neville Tranter's Amsterdam-based Stuffed Puppet Theatre, with Schicklgruber, alias Adolf Hitler--in which the knowledge of impending Nazi downfall hangs over the forced merriment at the Fuhrer's 50th-birthday celebration, held in a claustrophobic bunker. (Feb. 5-20; (49) 0551-400-2475; www.figurentheatertaqe.goettingen.de)

Markala, Mali

FESMAMAS: Since 1993, this annual festival of masks and marionettes has drawn together tourists and locals for three days each year in Markala--making it the oldest active festival in Mali. While celebrating the country's cultural traditions and increasing tourist interest in the area, the event has also managed to address tough social issues. This year, the theme around which it seeks to mobilize participants and audiences is street children. Much of the program--from masks symbolizing youth and childhood, to marionette plays that touch on poverty, human trafficking and forced labor, to a panel discussion that includes a UNICEF representative and delegates from several government ministries--will keep the emphasis firmly on the youngest and most needy members of Malian society. (Mar. 3-6; (223) 66-89-85-71; http:// fesmamas.org)

Madrid, Spain

ESCENA CONTEMPORANEA: Now in its second decade, this innovation-obsessed event presents Marcelo Diaz's staging of Mariano Llorente's Transit, the first production to emerge from Sala Cuarta Pared of Madrid's ETC (Espacio Teatro Contemporaneo) experimental development lab. Also, in Photo-Romance, Lebanese artists Lina Saneh and Rabih Mroue shift between their own identities and fictional ones while they discuss (without ever mentioning the source by name) the thorny prospect of adapting the 1977 Sophia Loren/Marcello Mastroianni film Una giornata particolare by setting it in 21st-century Beirut. (Saneh's video I Had a Dream, Mom also appears on the festival program. …

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