‘Graphic’ puppet show to be staged by Chimera Theatre

Brothers Grimm tale 'The Robber Bridegroom' hits the stage next week

Chimera Theatre has always leaned towards producing challenging and provocative material for Kamloops audiences.

For their fifth season’s mainstage production they’re tackling something even more challenging.

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Their adaption of The Grimms’ Fairy Tale The Robber Bridegroom is going to be a minimalist, mostly non-verbal, puppet show.

And it’s for adults.

“It’s bloody. It’s graphic in a great way. It’s fun,” said Andrew G. Cooper, co-director of the show. “Anyone who likes horror movies I think would be engaged by it — so don’t bring your kids.”

The play has evolved out of a collaborative process between the four core members of the cast and crew: Cooper, who is the co-director and plays The Magistrate, Melissa Purcha who is the other co-director and plays The Old Woman and The Little Girl, Maddison Hartloff who plays The Bridegroom and is designing and building the costumes, and Brittney Martens who plays The Maid and is painting the puppets.

“Andrew had the idea to kind of go back to Chimera’s roots, which was the Brothers Grimm story,” Purcha said.

“And so we were looking at different Grimms’ Fairy Tales. And for me, I really wanted to find a current and engaging conversation that could be had with a really old story, because that’s kind of my jam.”

They eventually settled on The Robber Bridegroom, a tale that might not be familiar to most.

“It kind of started off with a lot of dialogue between Andrew and I,” Purcha said. “And then we brought some designers in on the conversation.

“And then in December we had three back-to-back long days, where we brought Brittney and Maddie heavily into that process, and got all of their creative input, and started fleshing things out.

Compared to earlier Chimera productions, The Robber Bridegroom has a much smaller cast and crew, and Cooper said that was intentional.

“One of my goals going in was to be able to pay everyone professionally,” he said. “So we knew it was going to be small scale.”

The smaller scale will also help them to tour the show after its run in Kamloops. Dates are already set in Calgary and Cooper is hoping to hear about others soon.

For those on stage, the challenge of this production has been channelling their performance through the puppets.

“I’m so used to moving my face,” Hartloff said. “So I have to find a way to channel all that body language and emotion without using any sort of facial expression.”

Brittney Martens said, “They’re so delicate that they have a grace to them that I don’t usually have as an actor. So I’m learning from my puppet in that way.”

Rounding out the team are Joel Feenstra as technical director and carpenter, Jared Rashke as set and lighting designer, Lucas Vanderlip is doing sound and Kaylee Erno is doing props.

The Robber Bridegroom runs at Pavilion Theatre from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26. Tickets are available at Kamloops Live box office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483 or online at kamloopslive.ca.

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