Richard Bay's Life-Sized Puppets Star In Japanese Classic

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, April 13, 2006

Saramento State presents “The Love Suicides at Sonezaki” April 14-15, 19-23 in the University Theatre. For more information, call 278-6702 

Chances are, when you were a kid, you saw a show with hand puppets. But the show that Richard Bay is staging features puppets that are nearly life-sized, and highly labor intensive.


Building the puppets involved making delicate heads, hands and feet – the parts of the puppet the audience can see. These were mounted on a frame. Then that frame was covered by multiple layers of hand-made kimonos -- and there are even more garments for the human actors in the show. For costume designer Nina Pinkard it means a lot of time at the sewing machine

(Sewing machine)

The costumes include layers of silk. And a lot of the silk goes on the inside, because silk generates less friction than other fabrics.


The puppets also function differently on stage than human actors. Richard Bay.


To be convincing, the puppets need to move gracefully, without jerking – even when doing something as simple picking up a paper fan. That means slowing down the narration, since the narrators can easily talk faster than the puppets can move. Bay has been working on the timing with his cast for weeks.


Another difference between this Japanese tragedy and a Western tragedy like Romeo and Juliet is that the sadness rises from a different source. In Shakespeare’s play, the young lovers ALMOST get away. The tragedy is that Romeo and Juliet’s plan goes horribly wrong, and their lives are cut short.
“Love Suicides at Sonezaki” tells a story set a different society, one in which the lovers, Tokubei and Ohatsu, have no chance to remain together in life. So they go into the forest at night, knowing they won’t be coming back.  Richard Bay.


(Actors, music)