At once spectacle and story, art and extravaganza.
The Old Trouts tackle the classic tale of a puppet, his maker, and the cruel world. Donning their leather aprons and clutching their chisels, the Trouts tremulously bring to life the mysterious miscreant Pinocchio, and from their sawdusty workshop he emerges to wreak havoc and magic upon the world.
The original story by Carlo Collodi is quite different from the Disney version we all knowit is more fantastically surreal, more provocative, more exuberant. The Old Trouts attempt to capture the spirit of Collodi, while bringing the story into relief as the wondrous psychological conundrum it is.
The familiar elements are all there, and some unfamiliar ones as well: Geppetto receives an enchanted log and makes it into a puppet, which leaps from his hands and launches forth on a series of bizarre adventuresthe puppet theatre of Mangiafoco, the Fox and Cat in the forest, the Sea Monster, the Circus Ringmaster, the Green Fisherman, and finally his redemption at the hands of the Blue Fairy.
The set is a baroque stage-machine, thundering and creaking and whirring, a vast apparatus for turning puppets into real boys. The band, David Rhymer and Jonathan Lewis, bang away with gusto on accordions, pianos, harmoniums, and violas. The Blue Fairy flies across the stage. All unfolds with singing and prancing and dozens of puppets, ranging from marionnettes to bunraku to the Trout trademark head puppet.
Children are welcome, and adults find themselves child-like again. And in the end, Pinocchio becomes a real boy.
Premiere: Alberta Theatre Projects. Calgary, Alberta, Canada .Nov. 30 Dec. 27, 2004.
"... we are caught up in an inspired, strange and very funny world that only the Trouts could create.
- Bob Clark - Calgary Herald
An Oddly Sexy Puppet Skirmish
An underground puppet production for adults, a grand unifying theory explaining birth, death, and everything in betweena fantastical visual poem about the essence of being human, from the perspective of puppets. It is an absurdist creation myth, equal parts Samuel Beckett and Jim Hensons Sesame Street.
The play begins with a nightmare and ends with a miracle, careening through the profane, the divine, the magical, the surreal, and the sensual. On one level, it is the simple story of a conflict between a painter and a cook over a pig. On another, its about the war waged between Mind and Matter, the soul and the rumbling belly. It tackles, with childlike wonderment, the grand mystery of the formation of a human being.
With rollicking music and frolicking puppets, a colourful world unfolds in which the characters This and That battle for supremacy in the womb. The eternal conflict builds in desperation, as each strives for their own satiation. Finally, the world implodes into the metaphysical impossibility that is Istvan.
Premiere: 2000 - One Yellow Rabbit's High Performance Rodeo
Here's an old video clip:
Shoots straight to the most ancient part of us, where we feel love and loss wordlessly. . . .
- Fast-Forward Calgary
A few miles from here a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch. . . .
An operatic extravaganza based on the thousand-year-old poem, replete with shaggy beasts, prancing Vikings, and singing girls in horned helmets.
The thousand-year old poem, strangely beautiful, fantastical, and surreal, tells of the monster Grendel, who plagues the ancient king Hrothgar, and the feral Beowulf who arrives to save the world from marauding evil. The Old Trouts plunge into the depths of these old souls, digging in the muck of this earliest of humankinds nightmares. Whats more, they do it with the absurdity and theatrical frenzy for which they are known: its an operatic extravaganza, replete with shaggy beasts, prancing Vikings, and singing girls in horned helmets.
Premiere: Presented by One Yellow Rabbit in Calgarys Big Secret Theatre. Calgary, Alberta, Canada. February 2002.
Awards: Betty Mitchell Award for outstanding sound design by Peter Moller.
"One of the best, most surreal works of imagination
I’ve seen in ages."
- See Magazine, Edmonton
A culinary theology
In this, their latest production, the Old Trouts creep trembling into the Great Kitchen of Heaven, to investigate its secrets and reveal therein the fundamental truths of existence. They plunge headlong into the stock pot and sing hallelujahs to the feast before us, illuminating no less than the very breath of the world, the spiritus mundi, the eternal and constant miracle of creation.
The Old Trouts summon the ghost of Antonin Carême, Le Cuisinier des rois et le Roi des cuisiniers, grandfather of classical French cuisine. Left alone as a child at the gates of revolutionary Paris, he found apprenticeship at the humble restaurant of an un-named Chef who taught him the mysteries of transcendental cuisine. Who was the un-named chef? And what did he teach the grubby urchin who became the greatest cook in the world?
This is no ordinary puppet-show about cooking and the French Revolution. Its the first congregation of the Church of the Un-named Chef.
Premiere: One Yellow Rabbit High Performance Rodeo. Calgary, Alberta, Canada. January 28 to February 21, 2004.
"Carême, the culinary obsessive who dies doubting, is an artist. And so are the men who made this show.
- Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
A puppet epic on a grand scale.
The Ice King weaves a gothic allegory of hunger and hallucination. The events take place in the dread wastes of the Canadian Arctic where the Franklin Expedition of 1845 has become locked forever in the ice. Insanity brews in the stew; Murder trudges, circling, in the eternal night; Starvation rumbles in sailors bellies. The captain is lost to this world, and the sun will not rise.