Paperhand Puppet Intervention: A Call to the Wild in Raleigh, NC


When we interviewed Tim Toben, of Greenbridge Developments, and asked him what every TreeHugger could do to make a better, greener world, he suggested that people should "tell the story about the transformation from a world powered by fossil fuels to a world powered by renewable energy -- in poetry, music, art, dance. Make it real for people who can't imagine their way out of the hole we find ourselves in." We may have just found the people to do this.

Paperhand Puppet Intervention is a North Carolina-based crew that has been creating inspiring and breath-taking shows since 1998 with the goal of supporting positive social change and environmental stewardship, as reflected in their mission statement:

"Our vision is inspired by our love for the earth and its creatures (including humans) as well as our belief in justice, equality, and peace. We are committed to creating multi-scaled and multi-disciplinary puppet performances that support this vision. Paperhand's mission is to make work that inspires people, promotes social change, and is deeply satisfying for everyone involved."

We have just returned from a performance of "Garden of the Wild", at the Raleigh Little Theatre — a huge and beautiful show exploring humankind's relationship to nature and wilderness, and the current ecological crisis we are facing. Paperhand incorporate a variety of techniques and skills with awesome effect, from simple face masks, physical theatre and slap-stick humor, through to huge 40ft 6-person puppets. The show ends with a shadow puppet scene exploring co-creator Jan Burger's childhood memories of walks around Walden Pond, and the moving story of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker's fight for survival. 'Magical' is a bit of a cliché when it comes to theatre review, but we can't think of a better word to describe the vignette's that Paperhand create. And while Garden of the Wild was more about re-examining our connections with the natural world and 'the wild', rather than the specifics of moving beyond fossil fuels, in many ways it was precisely the kind of show that Tim Toben was talking about — an inspiring work of art to make us stop and think about what is going on around us, and what our role is going to be in the crisis we face. Now we'd love to see them do a show about the coming clean energy revolution too — 40ft coal-fired power plants being vanquished by graceful wind turbines or majestic solar towers would be way too much fun!

For anyone wanting to see Garden of the Wild in Raleigh, the show will be on at the Raleigh Little Theatre on the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th May. Details here.


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