'Paperhand Puppet' Show Tells Story Of Our Relationship With The Earth
Paperhand Puppet Intervention is holding its 21st annual show at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill and at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.
Each year the organization tells a story about the relationship between people, the Earth and its creatures using giant puppets, shadows and live original music.
Donovan Zimmerman is one of the leaders of the troupe behind the new show "Unfolding Seeds: Invocations of Transformation."
Here are a few highlights from WUNC's conversation with him.
What is this year's story about?
Zimmerman: "We just have about 10 different invocations that are revolving around the themes of all flourishing is mutual or collective liberation. It's also based around the idea of what we need to invocate to transform ourselves in order to survive this as a species."
How is the show impacted by the pandemic?
Zimmerman: "We didn't actually address the pandemic, on the nose, at all. We just knew that was the condition that people were arriving to, no matter what you have going on in your life, that you're going to arrive to the this show with the pandemic having affected it. So, we just decided to look at other things about healing and about what it's like to move from a contracted isolated sort-of way of being, into an expanded more open — but I mean, again, then Delta started to crash in a few weeks before we opened. So, that was interesting pivot that we tried to weave in as well, without — again — directly addressing COVID in the show."
What did it feel like in your workshop when you finally had people show up again to begin building the costumes and the props and the puppets for this year's show?
Zimmerman: "Well, it felt great. It felt like I was able to start living into why I'm here on this planet, and... why I exist. I have this path cleared for myself that I've been trying to find for many years. And so, what we tried to do really was build a practice among our returning puppeteers and musicians of really authentically arriving into presence with each other.
"And we sort of just decided to make it a very much about creating a culture of care. And we decided to weave that into everything about the show. When people are attending to the puppets, they are attending also to each other as cast members. And then we're attending to the audience and we're creating this idea — or nurturing this idea of stewardship — that has to do with, also of course, tending to the earth. We work on healing the earth and the earth heals us — (that) is one of the central themes as well."
Live music is an important part of the show too. Who pulls that together and how big is the band?
Zimmerman: "The band is six people this year. And Charles Jones is our sound engineer designer and he's an amazing professional wonder of a sound person. The live music is a huge part, in it steers the emotions where you need them to go. It's a collaborative process that everyone drops in their musical ideas and sketches and we give feedback and we sort of rough things in and place them and then it's just all about refining it after that."
Folks can see "Unfolding Seeds: Invocations of Transformation" this weekend at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill, and next weekend at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.