Production Title: "Shank's Mare"
Premiere Date: 6 November, 2016
New York, NY, U.S.A.

Designer’s Statement

Shank’s Mare traces two parallel journeys told through puppetry, music and minimal text. The two stories frame a question about how knowledge and tradition are passed on. Through the dilemma of the young disciple in the Astronomer’s tale and through Koryu-san’s masterful
performance as Kandata and Shakyamuni Buddha, the idea of tradition as a pathway that must be consciously embarked upon is explored.

The puppets in Shank’s Mare include traditional Japanese kuruma ningyo figures from Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo and three figures designed and built by Tom Lee in collaboration with Brooklyn-based carver Kevin White, Ban Kinta, the head wigmaker of the Bunraku National
Theatre and Katherine Ferrier, a Maine-based quilt artist who built the costumes. These non-traditional figures are sculpted in wood with heavy gouges present in their hands and faces. The design of these figures emphasizes the tactile, elemental nature of wood and fabric, in contrast to the classical design of the Japanese puppets.

This production was designed to braid new and old into seamless whole that celebrates the power of traditional kuruma ningyo puppetry and exemplifies its evolving role in the language of puppet theatre."

Jury’s Comment

“A wedding of historical technique with modern video methodology that celebrates through superb and respectful artistic collaboration how two practices come together to honour the past and transform and inspire the future. The beautifully carved puppets have an overall clarity of design drawing on Japanese traditions. The set has clear unity and is suitable for purpose and colours used enhance the fantasy world created through the narrative. Overall, this is a solid design aesthetic with some clear skill in making puppets.”

Jury Members

Richard Bay
puppeteer &
retired college instructor
Sacramento, CA, U.S.A
Mary Kerr
theatrical designer and professor of theatre design
University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C., Canada
Cariad Astles
Director of the Centre for Research into Objects & Puppets in Performance, Associate Lecturer, University of Exiter, U.K.




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