Reviews from WeeFestival: A Bucket of Beetles and Taama (Journey)

by Lynn on May 23, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Streaming until May 24, 2021 at

Papermoon Puppet Theater, (Indonesia)

Artistic Directors: Maria Tri Sulistyani & Iwan Effendi

Story of Lunang Pramusesa

Puppet engineer, Anton Fajri

Puppet designers, Anton Fajri, Junang Pramusesa, Iwan Effendi

Puppeteers: Anton Fajri, Beni Sanjaya, Pambo Priyo

Music composer, Yennu Ariendra

Videographer, Gabra Mikael & Rangga Yudhiustira

For ages 3+

From the show information: “Wehea is a little boy who lives in a big rain forest. Just like any other people who live there, Wehea has a special connection with nature. Even the smallest beings in the forest are his friends. One day, he sees a very special rhinoceros beetle and sets off on an adventure to meet it! What unfolds is a story about friendship and the special connection between humans and nature.”

Various images of beetles are projected onto a screen, illuminated in white light. In time the puppeteers appear holding a cutout of a beetle, held in the light which in turn projects the image onto the screen, so we see how the ‘trick’ is done. Over the course of the production these projections are interspersed with the actual models of the puppets, manipulated by the puppeteers.

Wehea is a wonderful puppet manipulated by two puppeteers: one manipulates his head and a hand that brushes the sleep out of his eyes, while the other moves his feet. At first Wehea sees the rhinoceros beetle in his basket of beetles, but when he is not looking, the beetle scurries away and Wehea goes into the forest to look for it.

Over the course of his search Wehea will find his friend the rhinoceros beetle, along with other insects; be challenged by beetle poachers; deal with a catastrophe that displaces people; and learn to value all aspects of nature.

The puppets are a marvel of imagination. The rhinoceros beetle has twigs for legs and its horn. Other insect puppets are a mix of twine, twigs, black dots for eyes and glorious sound. The forest is a delicate clamour of noise, twitches and clicking of the insects, bird-song, cicada screeching and other sounds that illuminate the teaming life of the rain forest. Watching the puppeteers carefully manipulate the puppets is as fascinating as the puppets themselves. And the lesson of respecting nature, can never be taught enough.

Taama (Journey)

Théâtre de la Guimbarde & Soleil Théâtre (Belgium and Burkina Faso)

Director, Gaëtane Reginster

Collective in Burkina Faso: Alain Hema

Designed by Laurence Grosfils by Yves Hanosset

Costumes by Marie-Ghislaine Losseau

Performed by Aïda Dao (Voice) and Benoit Leseure (Violin and music)

For ages 2 ½ +

From the play information: “A woman is searching for a new place to call home, along the way, she meets a travelling musician who joins her on a shared musical path that crosses borders of culture and language. Taama (Journey) in the Dioula language of Burkina Faso—brings together a Burkinable singer and a Breton violinist in a colourful world that mixes traditional rhymes and classical melodies.”

First Benoit Leseure rolled a box onto the stage. He held a violin. He sat on the box and played a jaunty tune. Then Aïda Dao entered carrying a very large carry-all along with a very long rolled up thingy under her arm. She unraveled the roll revealing a lovely floor covering. In the covering were several poles. She formed these poles into structures and then hung bright coloured material from the structures. Voilá, her home. And she sang songs from her native Burkina Faso as she did it. Benoit Leseure joined her. She also took many bowls, pots and pails of various sizes out of the carry-all and they both banged and tapped rhythms on them. Sound and percussive beats were created from very surface. The two performers from different countries collaborated beautifully to create a story of home and friendship.  

They played to an audience of young children who were engaged and ‘got it.’ And in the end they were invited to come and bang, tap and shake the instruments or make ‘noise.’ It was beautifully, simply captured on film. Joyful.

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