Theater for the New City Crystal Field Executive Director Presents:
The premiere of Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre's
"Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom."
Puppet play weaves Czech, Slovak and Italian fairy tales.
Added attraction for Saturday matinees, "The Winter Tales,"
is a solo puppet show with fables of wizards, blizzards and spirits
Vit Horejs, founder of Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater (www.czechmarionettes.org), attributes much of his theatrical orientation to the drama of fairy tales his Czech grandmother told him. Folksy and wise, Aesopian and Grimm-like, they provide a rich trove of source material for Puppet Theater. Horejs' approach, though, it not to simply enact the stories, but to mix-and-match them in new and sometimes intrepid combinations. His project for 2017 has been to adapt a selection of his grandmother's tales into material for his ensemble of antique Czech puppets, the core of which were found in a closet at the Jan Hus Church on East 74th Street in 1990. Theater for the New City will present the premiere of his "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom," based on a compendium of Czech fairy tales, February 16 to March 5. Each Saturday of the run, Vit Horejs will also perform "The Winter Tales," a marionette play for young audiences based on three fables of wizards, blizzards and spirits.
"Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom" is drawn from fairy tales that are cherished by children of the Czech Lands. Written and directed by Vit Horejs, it is performed by four performers, four dozen marionettes of various sizes and a mounted deer's head. The evening is named for a story in which a charcoal burner's son, predestined by his fairy godmother to marry a princess, is sent by his angered father-in-law King on a quest for the sun's three golden hairs in hope that the young man will perish. Resolving three more difficult tasks along the way, he returns with rich rewards, inspiring the envious King to depart in search of Apples of Youth and Water of Life, a quest in which he finds his punishment.
In 2015, TNC presented Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre in "The Magic Garden, or, The Princess Who Grew Antlers," an ensemble creation that was cheerfully concocted from Czech fairy tales in which antlers appear. Continuing the troupe's investigation of fairy tales with antlers, in "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom" two fairy tales will be framed by an unresolved mystery of a youngest brother who is turned into a deer. At the end of the play, the audience will vote to decide whether he will be freed from his spell or condemned to hibernate for the next four years. The vote is not rigged, this time.
The actor/puppeteers are Deborah Beshaw-Farrell, Michelle Beshaw, Vit Horejs and Ben Watts. Music will be a capella Czech folk songs. The set, by Roman Hladik, is built from spiraling coils of forest vines. Costume Design is by Michelle Beshaw. Lighting Design is by Federico Restrepo.
("Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom" plays Feb. 16 - March 5, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM; $15 general admission, $10 kids. Recommended for ages 5 to 105. Runs 1:20. Critics are invited on or after February 17.)
"The Winter Tales," offered on Saturdays at 3:00 PM, is a one-man show performed by Vit Horejs and a troupe of antique wooden puppets that speak in dozen voices, dance, play violin, swim and fly. It is comprised of three Czech fairy tales (performed in English) replete with mountain wizards, clever village maidens and spirits. They are: "The Snow Maiden Sněhurka," in which a childless couple find a little girl in a winter blizzard; "The Twelve Months," in which an orphaned girl is sent to fetch strawberries from the forest in the middle of a blizzard and meets twelve kind men representing the twelve months, and "Salt Over Gold," a Czech version of the Slovak tale that is staged in "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom."
("The Winter Tales" plays Saturdays at 3:00 PM, 2/18, 2/25 and 3/4. Admission $12 adults, $8 kids. Recommended for ages 4 to 104. Running time 55 minutes. Critics are invited to all performances.)
ABOUT CZECHOSLOVAK-AMERICAN MARIONETTE THEATRE
The troupe is excited to return to Crystal Field's theater, a venue which embraces new work and enables performances in innovative styles, like these two plays, to reach receptive audiences at affordable prices.
Vit Horejs, an emigré from Prague, founded Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre (CAMT) in 1990, utilizing century-old Czech puppets which he found at Jan Hus Church on East 74th Street. His trademark is using puppets of many sizes, from six-inch toy marionettes to twelve-foot rod puppets which double as scenery. CAMT is dedicated to preserving and presenting traditional and not-so-traditional puppetry.
Theater for the New City has presented the company in five productions to-date. These include the previously mentioned "The Magic Garden, or, The Princess Who Grew Antlers" (2015) and two more historical works: "King Executioner" (2013), in which puppets and live performers enacted an enigmatic tale of early World War II that was loosely based on "When you are a King, You will be an Executioner" (1968) by the Polish magical realist novelist Tadeusz Nowak (1930-1991), and "The Very Sad Story of Ethel & Julius, Lovers and Spyes, and about Their Untymelie End while Sitting in a Small Room at the Correctional Facility in Ossining New York" (2008), which explored the Rosenberg trial with a manipulated set, props and found objects. Anita Gates wrote in the New York Times, "Vit Horejs has written and directed a first-rate, thoroughly original production and made it look effortless. The cast gives charged, cohesive performances, and the staging is expert."
At La MaMa, the company's productions include "The Little Rivermaid Rusalka" (1999), "Golem" (1997, 1998 Henson International Puppetry Festival, and 2011), which had a score by Frank London, and "The New World Symphony: Dvorák in America," a puppet and object theater work examining the influence of African-American and Native American music upon the great 19th-century Czech composer Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904).
Productions in other venues have ranged from Czech classics to Shakespeare to fairy tales. "Johannes Dokchtor Faust" premiered in CAMT's first season (1990) and was re-staged in 1994 as part of NADA's Obie Award-winning "Faust Festival" in Soho. It was revived at La MaMa in 2000 and at Manhattan's Bohemian Hall in 2007. "Hamlet" debuted at the Vineyard Theater in 1997, was performed at outdoor venues in NY, and toured to the 2004 Prague Summer Shakespeare Festival at Prague Castle. It was revived on Jane’s Carousel in DUMBO, Brooklyn in 2007. "The Bass Saxophone," a WWII fantasy with music based on a story by Czech-Canadian writer Josef Skvorecky, played 11 weeks at the Grand Army Plaza Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch in Brooklyn during the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2006. CAMT's productions for young audiences include "A Christmas Carol--OY! Hanukkah--Merry Kwanzaa," "The Historye of Queen Esther, of King Ahasverus & of the Haughty Haman," "Kacha and the Devil," "The White Doe - Or The Piteous Trybulations of the Sufferyng Countess Jenovefa," "Snehurka, The Snow Maiden" and "Twelve Iron Sandals."
CAMT has also appeared at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, the Smithsonian Institution, The World Trade Center, the Antonin Dvorak Festival in Spillville, Iowa, the 2012 inauguration of The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Heart of the Beast in Minneapolis, the Lowell Folk Arts Festival in Massachusetts and in international festivals in Poland, Turkey, Pakistan, and the Czech Republic.
"Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom" plays Feb. 16 - March 5, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM; $15 general admission, $10 kids. Recommended for ages 5 to 104
"The Winter Tales" plays Saturdays at 3:00 PM, 2/18, 2/25 and 3/4. Admission $12 adults, $8 kids. Recommended for ages 4 to 105
Theater for the New City