A Journey Into European Puppetry

An Introduction to Gravity From Above

Well the Sisyphean task of begging and conjuring up enough money to get myself back to Europe is finished. (I still do have to send out the promised map of European puppet theatres to those who earned it.) But in the last month and a half I’ve been concentrating on planning this monumental journey. The plane and train tickets are now in my possession. I have mostly booked the hotels and I am reconnecting with friends in other locales. There are still many things to prepare. Lists to go over. Things to buy. More research. But essentially the main fact is this: I will be traveling again in Europe between October 3rd and December 6th 2012. And thanks to all of you who have helped support Gravity From Above one way or another.

The ever present Czech skeleton. (Here seen in on my 2005 journey at the puppet museum in Chrudim.)

So here’s what I know I’m doing so far… My Czech contacts tell me that Jan Švankmajer will be interviewed. I haven’t actually contacted Mr. Š. myself, as I don’t speak Czech and he doesn’t speak English. But I trust that during my two week sojourn in Prague I will get to interview him. (I do have a translator!) Next comes  Nina Malíková, the editor of Loutkář (Puppeteer) magazine, at 100 years the oldest puppetry magazine in the world. Nina basically holds the keys to Czech puppetry. I’ve already had an interview with her in 2005 and can attest that she has a razor sharp mind and a vast knowledge of the subject. Then there’s Joseph Krofta, the director of DRAK one of the crucial puppet theatres and troupes to emerge from the Communist Era. Krofta is a singularly important figure. Not to forget Jakub Krofta, his son and a formidable director in his own right, who will meet me in Wrocław, Poland, where he is beginning work on a new theatrical project. And speaking of Poland, in Warsaw I will be interviewing Henryk Jurkowski, the foremost living authority on puppetry in Europe. He is old enough to have participated in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising as a teen, which raises the question how does one get from a time when hundreds of thousand of people and an entire city were falling down around you to puppetry. I can’t wait!

The Theatre of the Classic Czech puppets Spejbl & Hurvinek created by Joseph Skupa. I missed their performances in 2005… I won’t this time!

And there are will be many more. I have just tracked down Leona Beatrice Starewitch-Martin, who has been curating her grandfather’s (Ladislaw Starewicz) memory and I’m trying to get her in this film. And I will certainly talk to the member’s of the Czech troupe Buchty a Loutky who have invented a post-Švankmajer puppetry style. Also I will certainly interview Pascal Pruvost, a guignoliste in Paris. And speaking of Paris I’m still trying to reconnect with Aurelia Ivan, a graduate of l’École Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette (ESNAM) and Francois Lazaro of the Clastic Theatre. And there will be much more. My biggest goal at the moment will be to get the Brother’s Quay lined up. My feeling is that the documentary will be incomplete without them.

As far as problems go, the only real issue is what I will be using to record the interviews. There will be one or two of us doing the actual filming. And at this point we will only be getting the interviews. In a year or so I plan to go back with a crew to get the performances. I will need some serious money by then.

Anyway this is just an introduction to the journey. Stick around. There will be bulletins along the way. And news before I get going. My departure date is October 1st near midnight by ferry from Haines, Alaska.

If you stumbled upon this and have some kind of curiosity about the project please follow this link and watch the video and read the description. If you wish to help out, (I can’t tell you how much of a shoestring this is all being dangled from.) I will provide PayPal information soon. But this has to be done. If you are reading this then come along for the ride. And if you wish to contact me personally? Write to reckoningmotions (at) y a h o o (dot) c o m

Meanwhile there is work to do here in Alaska!

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska

9/8/12

Feel free to leave comments below…

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5 responses

  1. Donna Knutkowski

    After reading what you already have planned, I wish I could tag along just for the wonder of it all. I wish for you all the best.

    September 9, 2012 at 6:33 AM

  2. This is a “storm” I’ll be happy to follow 😉 Excited for you!

    September 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM

  3. Wow, it’s great to see you already have the Gravity site up and running!! I can feel the excitement even here in the midwest. Any chance you might get in contact with other puppetfilm makers, like maybe Jiri Barta, or some of the Fimfarum directors, possibly Aurel Klimt or Vlasta Pospisilova?

    September 10, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    • Thanks for the encouragement folks. Mike, I might try to locate Barta. But I don’t want to tilt the project too heavily towards filmed puppet animation so I’ll probably stop there. I’ll leave room for someone else to really be thorough on that subject. Or I’ll have a chance to expand on all of this later. (A real hope!) Meanwhile preparations continue…

      September 10, 2012 at 7:41 PM

  4. Ok, that makes sense. But hey…

    SEQUeL!! SEQUEL!! SEQUEL!! 🙂

    September 11, 2012 at 7:32 AM

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