Monday, August 29, 2011

NYC to Israel: The International Festival of Puppet Theater

Margot and Spica
Over a year ago when Spica and I heard that we might have the opportunity to perform in The International Festival of Puppet Theater Jerusalem 2011, we started jumping up and down. “Pinch me!” Spica said. “Is this really real?” It turned out to be a dream come true. August 13, 2011 we boarded a plane and embarked on an incredible journey.

The International Festival of Puppet Theater Jerusalem is produced by The Train Theater. The Theater was established in 1981 as a collaboration of four independent puppeteers: Michael Schuster, Alina Ashbel, Hadass Ophrat and Mario Kotliar. At first, the performances took place in a train wagon brought to the Koret Liberty Bell Park. As the years passed, it became a creative and inspirational source of puppetry in Israel. This year they celebrated their 30th anniversary as a company and their 25th puppetry festival.

The Puppetry Festival invited performers, produces and directors from nine different countries and produced thirty-eight shows in six days. There were ten shows for adults and the rest were for kids and families from ages two and up. It was a great opportunity to have so many producers and festival directors from all over the world to see our work. We were very happy to hear that the theme for this year’s festival was Paper. The artists (us included!) used the art forms of pop-up books, paper cuts, paper folding, paper silhouettes and more to create shows.

Spica and I performed in a cabaret evening called Paper Moon in the courtyard of the Khan Theater. The evening was in honor of our friend Mrs. Damiet van Dalsum, Director of the Internationaal Poopentheater Festival in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. The evening was composed of our piece, A Chance Shadow and Hanaleh's Sabbath Dress from Israel. After the show the son of the producer, who was thirteen years old, ran up to us and said, “You were great!” He went into great depth about the life of the poet and he wanted to know more. The photographer of the festival said it was one of the best shows he had seen at the festival (thanks to them!).

The children are so lucky to be exposed to so many different shows at the festival! Even though each show incorporated puppetry, there was a huge variety. Some of the shows connected to poetry and literature, some were folk tales, others were lighthearted and fun. It was evident that they put just as much effort into the children’s shows as they did for the adults. They [Train Theater] hold the children with great respect, and it is no doubt that an excellent children’s show is not just enjoyed by children, but by everyone.

We feel so grateful to have participated in this festival and had the opportunity to see such a culturally inspiring city as Jerusalem. This festival has allowed a space for inspiring dialogue and a cultural bridge between the local artist and colleagues from abroad.

Read more in-depth about the different shows about the festival here on Go, Margot, Go!

Margot Fitzsimmons and Spica Wobbe are teaching artists at The New Victory Theater

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