Performance

Puppets brought to life

New work from puppeteer extraordinaire Cristina Masoliver

By Laura Bulkin
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 5/31/18

It’s a much-anticipated sign of the approach of summer in Taos: Cristina Masoliver, the beloved “puppet lady,” returns home from her winter adventures in Baja, Mexico, and brings …

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Performance

Puppets brought to life

New work from puppeteer extraordinaire Cristina Masoliver

Posted

It’s a much-anticipated sign of the approach of summer in Taos: Cristina Masoliver, the beloved “puppet lady,” returns home from her winter adventures in Baja, Mexico, and brings her Puppet Theatre Los Titiriteros to the Saturday morning Farmers Market.

This year, Masoliver returns north with a brand new puppet named Pierre. The advent of this new being has inspired a new, more personal, adult type of show.

Pierre will make his Taos debut in “Far Out There,” with shows Saturday (June 2) at 6 p.m., and Sunday (June 3) at 2 p.m. Both performances will be given at Metta Theatre, 1470 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado.

“Far Out There” is created and performed by Masoliver and directed by Isabelle Kessler of Albuquerque’s Loren Kahn Puppet & Object Theatre.

“On the way home from Baja, I stopped in Albuquerque at the home of my puppeteer friends,” Masoliver recalled. “I showed them my new work and humbly asked for help. Isabelle, a veteran Object Theatre director, kindly offered her expertise and work began right then. It’s great to have a wonderful director because any performer needs someone to look from outside. She’s been up here working with us. And Bruce McIntosh from Metta has been so generous, it’s been nice to reconnect. Between everybody, it’s a collaborative effort to put it up.”

“ ‘Far Out There’ is a hymn to nature, to the summoning of nature, to the essence of life,” said director Kessler. “The unique experience of Cristina in the region of Baja, threaded with her talent as puppeteer, creates this extraordinary mixture of theater and honest truth. And ‘Far Out There’ is a hymn to puppetry, this art of intimate distance. It is a hymn to the freedom of attachment, the freedom of love. Even if very young children are sensitive to poetry and silence, for the focus of the audience, I would not bring a child under 5 years old.”

“I hardly ever make new puppets,” Masoliver said. “Some of these I have been playing for 20 years. ‘Far Out There’ is the story of me and Pierre: our experience as a puppeteer and a puppet, and our relationship. How he came to be, where I was, how did we start working together, what do I know about him in the past, before we met. In any meeting, there are the two people, and all of their past history before their two timelines intersect. Pierre has lived a story in himself, just as I’ve been living my story. It’s not for toddlers and babies — (it’s) really geared toward grown people.”

Asked about the show’s title, Masoliver said, “ ‘Far Out There’ is … far. It’s the big bubble, the place of all our adventure. Where is it for any of us that we can actually really feel the place, be present, find some quiet, some peace, get away from the business and the computers and the GPS. We’ll be serving tea and cookies after the show, and I hope people will stick around and talk about their own ‘far out there’ places.”

“This is a very subtle show we’re doing at Metta. It’s different, and for me that’s exciting that it’s different, that we are targeting a different audience and presenting something that will ring a tone. It rings a bell. It resonates. It’s a thread that we’ve all experienced.”

“I really enjoy playing this show,” she said. “Some shows need time to struggle and get comfortable, but this one is a pleasure from the beginning. This is the first time I’m telling about me or my story. Every other show has been imagined through the character, their story. This one is my story for the first time. I’m older, I feel comfortable doing that now. This is really a mix — a lot of imagination, really a trip of imagination, but it’s within my story. Who is this puppeteer?”

She spoke about the interplay of creation and interaction with a new puppet. “What is beautiful is that with something that we can create, such as a puppet, we can spend so many hours immersed in this thing. I built him, and that was a time period of creation, but then how many hours have I spent truly enjoying his company and letting it happen and coming up with all these adventures? You have a glass of wine and fool around with different ideas, and something beautiful comes up, and that stays.”

“A puppet is an object, but that’s not the same as a prop. If you give an object a space to be, if you play with it instead of just leaving it in a corner, it takes on a life. People think puppeteers are about control, but it’s the opposite. You listen to it and see where it takes you, how it surprises you.”

After this weekend, Masoliver will be performing at the Taos Farmers Market each Saturday, as well as at libraries, trailer parks and other venues throughout northern New Mexico. “The puppet lady is around, free and accessible for everybody,” she said. “It’s my pleasure to be busy and to work and to be the puppet lady as long as I’m kicking.”

Tickets are $10, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Not suggested for small children. Call (575) 758-1104.

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