Around The Town

The Adventures of Curious Ganz

By: Alix Cohen

March 4, 2024: This imaginative puppet piece is based on “the true life of 16th-century copper smelter Joachim Ganz with a little leap to Ada Lovelace, Galileo, Al-Buzanji, Brunelleschi…A response to the closing of borders and narrowing of minds.”

By: Alix Cohen

March 4, 2024: This imaginative puppet piece is based on “the true life of 16th-century copper smelter Joachim Ganz with a little leap to Ada Lovelace, Galileo, Al-Buzanji, Brunelleschi…A response to the closing of borders and narrowing of minds.”

Joachim Ganz, the first Bohemian and first Jew in America, was a mining expert who introduced a new process of smelting into copper (1564). Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was a mathematician, writer, and the first to recognize a mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, had practical use. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was the father of modern astronomy. His theory that earth revolved around the sun met with church and state resistance. Al-Buzanji (940-998) was a mathematician and astronomer who made important contributions in trigonometry. Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) was the primary founder of Renaissance architecture, most famous for designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral.

Inspiration intrigues. The production captivates. Magically delivered into life, our (8”) hero is born curious. One of Ganz’s first possessions is a magnifying glass. Nature fascinates. A grown-up 18”? version wearing a long, red robe, writes with a quill in a large volume. It’s a 15th Century study. There’s a frog pinioned four ways and a mysterious beaker. Yarn lines stretch between set points. Are they crisscrossing electromagnetic energy; organic relationships? Ganz sails away to explore the world.

“Meanwhile somewhere else” (written placard), a scholar reviews piles and piles of books. His peer distracts with dreadful effort to play music. The Queen (Elizabeth I? Ada?) appears as top of a three tiered construction= her domain. Each revolving level holds villagers and animals. We hear daily bustle. It’s like an extravagant mechanical music box.

Ganz lands and offers his theories about revolving earth to the Queen. She’s excited. A court advisor/magician is territorial. Earth is of course flat! Beyond its edges are sea monsters! (We see a large, scaly, undulating example.) The hero is imprisoned. Her Majesty has him sprung. He and the scholars then leave on a voyage of discovery. A storm is conjured to sink the boat. Washed up onto an island, each has a little adventure. Ganz invents electricity and the telephone.

They return home with souvenirs including creatively manifest potatoes and a rambunctious guinea pig, shortly wearing a ruff collar. The Queen is delighted. Ganz continues to invent and invent as we look into the future.

Small props are splendid; Elizabethan Costumes colorful and adroit. Characters are well articulated. Almost nothing is said. Instead, sounds resembling conversation emerge.

The story plays out within circular frames cut in 2D squares as well as outside construct. Characters and the boat emerge as multiple sizes in accordance with focus on a scene. Music is kind of period, a combination of stringed instruments a vocal. The story unfolds bright and brisk with droll, intermittent details. Charming.

Photos by Richard Termine

Directed by Sarah Wright
Music composed by Adam Pleeth
Lighting Design by Marty Langthorne
Puppets and Sets : Sarah Wright, Lyndie Wright, Alice King and Luke Woods.

Puppetopia (February 27- March 10) 2024 presents
The Adventures of Curious Ganz by the London based Curious School of Puppetry
HERE  
145 Sixth Avenue