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Dropping the Curtain on a Tiny Universe

April 30, 2011
Photo by Brian Geltner

Photo by Brian Geltner

How does one sum up months of rehearsal and ten successful, almost entirely sold out performances of an original, musical puppet play, based on the writings of Federico Garcia Lorca? Magic. In this world, thirteen cast members, three pit musicians, a composer, director/creator, assistant director, lighting, costumes, sound, friends, and unseen helpers brought to life puppets who in this story even brought themselves to life.

I do not speak Spanish. Neither did many of our audience members. Regardless of some not very subtle shadow puppetry and at least half of the performance in English, the purely Spanish moments read so clearly. Unmistakably familiar emotions translated across the audience and cast as Lorca, Rima Fand, and Erin Orr weaved their webs of comedy and incredibly human grief, as felt by the puppet Don Cristóbal.

When a new friend discovers the truth of my new adventures in puppetry, he inevitably wants more information. How? With whom? When? Where? I have yet to hear the missing question. Somehow whether young or old, everyone seems to relate to well-acted puppets telling a meaningful tale. Within the span of less than two hours, our audience connected to the point of caring about the heart of a wooden puppet. Each night as the puppet maker replaced Don Cristobal’s heart, I listened to hear their reaction. Sad sighs of empathy and occasional laughter as Don Woodsman, the puppet maker, held the broken heart of a puppet in his hands.

In those moments, I knew we had done our jobs as actors, transforming a small theater on Suffolk Street into a world in which strangers might empathize with the emotions of a self-aware puppet who had impossibly fallen in love and, as a result, felt “terrible.” I listen to the music still, even now on my ipod as I ride the subway. Familiar melodies and a beautifully touching story refuse to dissipate from the forefront of my memory, persisting in a way for which I give thanks.

After the close of such a captivating show with such a talented team of artists, and even tonight at the start of Orfeo at the Metropolitan Opera, knowing we have only four performances remaining, I feel akin to Don Cristóbal. Somewhat heartbroken, everything hurts sometimes when such magical universes come to a close for performers. “¡Ay! What a hard time I have loving you as I love you…”

Yet the next gig arrives already before the first ends, and I move on to another audience and another inspiring work of art. Don Cristóbal will hopefully one day return to the stage, and I already have the fortune of working with composer Rima Fand for Tableau Vivant this month. I will rejoice if I again work with Erin Orr and everyone on the insanely gifted cast and crew someday. In the meantime, visions of the moon, the midnight hours, the Rio Guadalquivir, and a brilliant production will have to suffice.

Photo by Brian Geltner

Photo by Brian Geltner

9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2011 3:02 am

    Hi Abi! I love your blog and I love you ^.^
    So fun to read your perspective on the production. You are a very good writer!

  2. diane permalink
    May 7, 2011 5:54 am

    Hi Abigail,

    I happened upon your site via the Tableau Vivant performance. I think it’s great that you have identified yourself and written about it rather than remain anonymous.

    My question is, what has been the reaction of your friends (male and female) and is there any change in the dynamic because they have seen you nude but you have not seen them?

    Once again I want to praise you for setting a great example for women to become comfortable with their bodies.


    • May 8, 2011 8:58 am

      Hi Diane, thanks for your encouragement! To be honest, I’ve actually been very cautious up to this next tableau about who I’ve invited to attend. Those friends who have seen the performance have mostly seen the video through my blog and I think already expect something out of the ordinary from me. I haven’t noticed a huge difference, though perhaps those bothered by it have kept silent. A few friends have definitely responded positively with respect to me and the project, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. This time, I’ve really “come out of the closet” in terms of promoting the event, having emailed about 1800 of my contacts with information about the upcoming performances. We’ll see what happens next!

      • NuTanz permalink
        May 18, 2011 1:13 am

        Hi Abigail,

        Hope you are doing well. I believe the main Tableau Vivant is just round the corner.

        I think Diane asks an interesting question. Great that you are “coming out of the closet”. Abigail, you’ve already written about your emotions and experiences but I feel there is scope for you to write a piece on “reactions”. You’ve briefly mentioned the reaction of your mum so it would be interesting to read a lengthier piece about her reaction and that of your friends.

      • May 22, 2011 10:56 pm

        Hi NuTanz! In a way, I just answered this question in today’s post, “Finding my Post-Apocalyptic Peace.” Basically, I’m deciding not to care. 🙂

      • NuTanz permalink
        May 24, 2011 10:28 pm

        Hi Abigail, that’s the best attitude to have!


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