Around The Town

Pescador (Fisherman)

By: Alix Cohen

March 4, 2024: An old fisherman (puppet) grey, frayed, pulpy, has lived his life married to the sea. The relationship is powerful, symbiotic. Sometimes she gives, sometimes she takes. He grows old and infirm, but never thinks of drawing away. This is his last challenge. A lighthouse beam fans out.

By: Alix Cohen

March 4, 2024: An old fisherman (puppet) grey, frayed, pulpy, has lived his life married to the sea. The relationship is powerful, symbiotic. Sometimes she gives, sometimes she takes. He grows old and infirm, but never thinks of drawing away. This is his last challenge. A lighthouse beam fans out.

Photo: Nicolás-Calderón

We watch as he gathers extended nets, fed back by a puppeteer in black. (There are five.) The pescador himself stands on the back of a prone human. Others form landscape as we begin. His modest rowboat (weathered, about 3’) moves, at various times, through successive hands of manipulators seated on the floor, pumping forward with their knees; rocked by puppeteers on their backs supporting with feet; shifted by those standing, passed hand to hand… He docks, walking up the back of a person, reconnoiters and embarks, climbing into the boat with physical difficulty.

The Maxfield Parish sky of morphing blues shows night advancing. Waves grow choppy. Water sounds are evocative. Quiet, repetitive music comes and goes. The old man slowly lets out length after length of netting, spread by unseen hands. His boat bobs and reels. He bails as it takes on water. There’s no turning back. This is his livelihood and his life. A gull circles and exits, later returning among a large flock- dozens and dozens of birds flapping in unison.

Photo: Nathaly Arancibia

There are fog horns. A storm comes. He holds his position. Net and then oars pull and tear away. The old man holds on for dear life. Thunder and lightning arrive, but it’s the insistent sounds of the roiled sea that elicit empathy. His boat pitches and plunges, literally tossed from puppeteer to puppeteer. The sight is sustained and so visceral, one might get mal de mer.

Never have I seen members of a puppet company so physically integral to a story, so like dancers. When not handling the boat itself, something done in turn, in multiples, each participant becomes waves -whirling tilting, extending limbs, bending, careening – it’s wonderful to watch.

Photo: Nicolás-Calderón

Lighting, sound design and artisanal elements apparently created by the director are marvelous. A beautiful piece.

We’re invited to examine puppets and scenic design more closely and ask questions after the performance.

Opening Photo: Nicolás-Calderón

Puppetopia (February 27- March 10) 2024 presents
Pescador (Fisherman) by the Silencio Blanco Company
Concept and direction: Santiago Tobar
Creative production: Dominga Gutiérrez
Puppet construction: Santiago Tobar
Performers: Rodolfo Armijo, Camila Pérez, Marco Reyes, Camilo Yáñez, Consuelo Miranda
Sound design: Ricardo Pacheco
Lighting design: Belén Abarza
HERE  
145 Sixth Avenue