(photo credit: Courtesy)
While some of the theater productions in the 19th annual International Festival
of Puppet Theater Jerusalem (August 8-13) take place within the confines of
several theater venues across the city, the main focus is to take the stories
and the characters to the streets.
For that purpose, the Train Theater
organized the Public Works project this year, calling the puppets to come out
and play in the neighborhood of Nahlaot on August 9, 11 and 12. Debby Farber,
the production representative of the Train Theater, describes the project as an
interactive journey in which the audience can explore the world of puppetry by
simply strolling through the neighborhood.
“This part of the festival is
built like a tour,” Farber explains. “It takes the audience from station to
Every station presents a different work.”
Works project features shows for children and adults. Some stations in the
children’s tour offer workshops, where the children can take a dream-tracker’s
course and receive a certificate at the end. The adults’ tour takes the audience
into the fairy-tale world of Sleeping Beauty in a contemporary adaptation of the
classic story, incorporating puppetry, story-telling and
Farber says the festival uses these different elements of
theater to present the audience with a unique combination of the traditional use
of puppets with contemporary methods and a wide variety of techniques, including
music, art and props with imaginative themes and story lines.
taking theatrical works out of the theater and bringing it into a single
neighborhood is not enough of an exposure, Adam Yakin reckoned that giant
puppets would do the trick.
Yakin initiated the first Here Come the Giant
Puppets happening. The central event of the festival, takes place in the Mahaneh
Yehuda market starting at 6 p.m. on Monday. A communal group of 60 built the
enormous puppets, which stand five meters tall or more, and put together a
captivating performance that exudes charm and wonder.
are not professional puppeteers.
But Yakin says that the “professional
amateurs,” as he calls them, all have a lot of imagination, inspiration and a
great amount of creativity, which is the most important aspect of this form of
art. As a result, Yakin forgoes the title of sole producer or director of the
“All the participants are producers and directors,” he insists.
“They used their own initiative and were even invited to give their own creative
input in the production.”
The event celebrates the Mahaneh Yehuda market
in that the puppets are made of items purchased from the various shops in the
area. Cardboard boxes, plastic ice-cube containers, fabrics, plastic bottles and
plates, wooden sticks, plastic bags and other recyclable items form these
surreal, colorful and charismatic characters that are truly larger than
Each puppet requires up to five or six people to maneuver it. A
puppet is sometimes mounted on one person while the others manipulate the hands,
legs and head. Some are placed in shopping carts for easier locomotion. All of
them call for a vivid imagination and were clearly created with that
“Giant puppets do not speak,” Yakin says, “but they are very
energetic and movable.”
The festive event features live music by the
Marsh Dondurma brass band, while the giant puppets dance. There will also be a
puppet made of baguettes. At the end of the event, the puppet will be broken up
and the baguettes will be distributed to the people in the market.
from the street shows, the festival includes indoor theater productions from
around the world, such as Italy, Belgium, France and Korea. One of the plays,
Salto Lamento, produced by well-known German puppeteer Frank Soehnle, is a dark
and mysterious play inspired by the medieval Dance of the Dead.
you’re there, you totally forget it’s a manipulator with a puppet because you’re
hypnotized by the performance,” says Farber.
Due to the international
aspect of the festival, many performances will have no text, very little text or
gibberish. For the few shows that are text-heavy, there will be a
“One of the goals of the festival is to expose local
audiences to puppetry and the world of visual theater,” Farber says. “I think
it’s a fascinating experience for those who don’t come from the small milieu of
the School of Visual Theater, who don’t come from the scene or attend shows
organized by artists from around the world.”The street shows are free of
charge. Indoor shows will take place at the Train Theater, the Khan Theater, The
Lab, The Bell Park Amphitheater and the School of Visual Theater. Tickets range
from NIS 25 to NIS 90. For more details: (02) 561-8514 or