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Dec. 9, 2004
is a playground for the unimaginative
by ELLIN BELTZ
GOOFY COSTUMES, hysterical comedy,
split-second timing, unique musical performances, incredible
physical theater and politics too much to ask? Not in the latest
Dell'Arte holiday show, Three Pigs: A Comic Tail with a
The show takes place entirely
within the brick house of the perpetually indulgent Mama Pig
(James Peck) who introduces us to all nine of her piglets, as
played by Betsy Cross, Michelle Seekamp, Suzanne Bakker, Elizabeth
Klinger, Yongzoo Lee, Stephanie Roberts, Kali Quinn, Audrey Finkelstein
and Adrian Mejia.
Mama Pig leads the piglets though
a wolf-preparedness drill, teaching them to reply "Not by
the hair of my chinny chin chin," but at that point, all
similarity to the traditional English folk-tale ends and the
Using little more than some
lights and sound, and their bodies and minds, the 10 actors transport
us to the house of straw, the house of sticks and finally an
incredible confrontation not with any real wolf but with our
fears, our hopes and our dreams.
[Photo at left:
As one of the three sow sisters, Michelle Seekamp, declares the
existence of an animal conspiracy as her herd lookS on. (Photo
by Carol Eskstein)]
My enjoyment was doubled by
watching the universal appeal of Dell'Arte's brand of physical
theater reflected in the eyes of children and their parents.
Neither age was bored. The children roared when the piggies defied
their mother; the parents sighed when Mama Pig had to deal with
a particularly trying behavior. I found myself drawn in, not
only by the piece, but also by the Dell'Arte style.
Having lived both inside and
outside the Redwood Curtain, I know Dell'Arte is considered one
of the finest theater companies and schools of physical theater
in the world. It is unique in that it offers the only Master
of Fine Arts (MFA) in ensemble-based physical theater in the
United States. Consequently students come from around the world
to study what Founding Artistic Director Joan Schirle describes
as taking "the actor beyond the role of interpreter of a
director's vision or playwright's words" and into a realm
where actors become creators. Forced beyond being passive and
obedient, they are expected to arrive in a more conscious and
Incidentally, you or I would
have to be really conscious to live through some of the stunts
performed almost as naturally as breathing by these highly talented
second-year MFA students. They clamber up and down the staging
as if it wasn't shaking like a leaf. They throw themselves and
each other around. They raise issues of life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness, all the while surrounded by a threat so
severe that Mama Pig can almost not articulate it. I'll be laughing
at the thought of Peck's "Woo... wooo... wooo" as well
as the list of wolves and their local towns of origin, including
the "Woo... wooo.... wooo from Woollow Creek!"
I wish I could tell you everything
they did. But if I even could, it would take this whole newspaper
the show moves so fast and flows so smoothly you won't believe
it when it's over. And it won't really be over, will it? I expect,
like me, you'll be thinking about it
for a long time to come.
You can still catch one of two
more free shows of Three Pigs, either at McKinleyville
High School on Friday, Dec. 10 or at the Eureka Adorni Center
on Sunday, Dec. 12, both shows at 7:30 p.m. Donations of nonperishable
food items for local food banks are requested; pick up advance
tickets at Wildberries Marketplace or at Coast Central Credit
After packing the houses for
free all over two counties, the Pigs return to the Carlo Theatre
in Blue Lake for the show's final run with paid performances
Thursday, Dec. 16 through Sunday, Dec. 19, again at 7:30 p.m.
Even here, tickets are a very reasonable $5 to $7.
Also this weekend and next,
Dell'Arte's Youth Academy presents a comedic archeological adventure,
The Gift of Monatuma , Friday, Dec. 10 ,and
Saturday, Dec. 11, plus Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17 and 18,
at the D Street Neighborhood Center in Arcata. All shows start
at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5.
Call 668-5663 for reservations
and more information about either show.
It's the last weekend for The
Pirates of Penzance at the North Coast Repertory Theatre,
300 Fifth Street, Eureka with shows on Friday, Dec. 10 and Saturday,
Dec. 11. Call 442-NCRT for tickets.
The World of Willie Wonka continues to delight and amaze with performances
Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 19. Call 786-LIVE for tickets.
Falderal presents a musical
story Portrait of Christmas ; showtime
is 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays with 2 p.m. Sunday
matinees through Dec. 19 at Redwood Curtain Theatre, 800 Harris
St., Eureka. Not for children under five years old. Call 822-7910
for tickets and more information.
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