Festival continues with African legend

by Jack Vaitayanonta | 9/30/96 5:00am

The splendor of the art of puppet theater continues when two of the world's most esteemed ensembles perform tomorrow and Wednesday nights as part of the Hopkins Center's Festival of International Puppetry.

Amoros & Augustin from France will dramatize the African legend "Sunjata" using shadow puppets. Ki-Yo M'Bock Theatre from the Ivory Coast will accompany the performance with live African drumming and songs.

The Ki-Yo M'Bock group is comprised of singers, dancers and musicians. There will be English subtitles to accompany the segments of the show.

The Edmonton Journal of Canada called the performance "a stunning mixture of operatic arias, ballet sequences, flickering shadow puppets that ... pulse with life."

Both performances will take place in the Moore Theater and will be preceded by informal discussions led by History Professor Judith Byfield and Music Professor Hafiz Shabazz.

The Hopkins Center's festival, which began last week, featured a performance by the Bread and Puppet Theater group on the Green on Friday.

A colorful painted bus was parked on the Green as quizzical students passed by.

The group, known for its theater of social consciousness, even invited students to participate in its program that day. A group of the performers hoisted puppets and other props in the show, which attracted a sizable crowd that spread across the Green.

The Pontine Movement Theatre of Portsmouth delivered an innovative adaptation of Thornton Wilder's play "Our Town" this weekend as well.

Two human actors, one man and one woman, used 18-inch Bunraku-style puppets and commedia dell'arte-style masks to play the role of about a dozen members of the fictitious New Hampshire town Grover's Corners.

While one did not know what to expect, the actors cleverly used miniature facades of buildings, sheets and photographs to depict various sites around the simple world of the residents.

The actors were deft in their ability to make the puppets seem life-like. The puppets were manipulated by a device in their backs. Suspending their disbelief, the audience became enchanted by the sensitivity of the characters.

Three sections of the performance communicated the universal aspects of humanity -- birth and new life, love and marriage, and death. The group stayed true to Wilder's theme of man as an element in a much larger universe.

Also showing this weekend was the Mexican company Teatro Tinglado's showing of "The Repugnant Story of Clotario Demoniax."

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