Famous Puppet Death Scenes

Old Trout Puppet Workshop (Canada) treats us to a mostly wordless piece called Famous Puppet Death Scenes. It consists of perhaps 16 short, unrelated vignettes in a puppet proscenium, each about two minutes long and each depicting the oh-so-tragic death of a puppet. E.g.:
- In a recurrent motif, a poor fellow at the opera is repeatedly pummeled by a huge fist, as much as he tries to avoid it;  
- An innocent boy is lured into a villain’s home by a lollipop - and eats the evil old man;
- Puppets (puppets of what?) on a German game show have to choose the Ja door or Nein door - and either way, the ogre eats them; 
- In a crowning jewel, an old woman returns home to find her husband’s suicide, so she shoot her self; her son comes home and sees what's happened and then shoots himself; his son comes home and does the same; the old husband comes home and we see that it's all been a trick; the old lady comes to life and sees her living husband and shoots him, and then shoots herself - again and again and again for some reason.

There’s a long list of creatives involved in the show. Nicolas Di Gaetano, Teddy Ivanov, Pityu Kenderes and Sebastian Kroon are as the puppeteers.

Famous Puppet Death Scenes skims the tragedy off life and then tosses it away. Grand Guignol meets Feydeau (in fact, Guignol was originally a puppet character). Old Trout Puppet Workshop exploits puppets’ remarkable ability to trivialize. They make us superior to death, and we can laugh at it, as if it were The Day of the Dead. It suggests the French term for Ionesco’s theater, le théâtre de dérision. I couldn’t have liked it more!

- Steve Capra

September 2019

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