BareBones goes 'Chicka-BOOM'

BareBones goes 'Chicka-BOOM'
Photo by Jayme Halbritter

Once again, it's time for the Barebones' Halloween puppet extravaganza. Like past pageants, the 19th annual event, Chicka-BOOM!, will be filled with puppets, stilting, aerialists, music, and fire art as the troupe honors the past in its Day of the Dead celebration.

Related stories:
Barebones opens its Halloween extravaganza this weekend [2011]

BareBones goes 'Chicka-BOOM'
Photo by Jayme Halbritter

Esther Ouray will co-direct this year's production with Lynette La Rue, with music direction by Matt Larson. The show focuses on the Big Bang, which "only happened because of a very particular set of circumstances," she says. Had the universe expanded any faster or slower, we might not exist at all. "There's a particularness of the Big Bang. All the elements that make up all life came from that explosion." 

Chicka-BOOM! centers on the idea that all of us are made of stardust. "We are all made of the same stuff," Ouray says. 

The production tells a simple story of two twin girls, dressed in pink, who burst out of an egg and move through their life until death. The things that the twins encounter along the way include a long snake manipulated by 10 stilters (designed by Tara Fahey), lots of fire, aerialists who play the role of falling stardusts, glowing orbs, lemmings (which in this production signify death as they herd us all to our common destination), and a wooly mammoth.

Unlike previous celebrations, this year's theme isn't particularly politically charged. "We stuck to life and death," Ouray says. 

With Barebones Halloween shows, there has always been an element of remembering those who have died. Each year, members of the audience are invited to honor their friends and relatives who have passed on with the help of things like the "hungry ghost" altars set up at the pageant site.
Arwen Wilder at work 
Arwen Wilder at work 
Photo by Jayme Halbritter

For many Barebones participants, the tragic death of Andrew Wagner, a frequent Barebones artist, still remains raw. Ouray says that there's a special altar for Wagner that will be placed along the pathways of the performance grounds, as well as altars for others who have died. 

This is Ouray's first year collaborating with Barebones, though she's worked with many of the same people before, having done quite a few MayDay Festivals with In the Heart of the Beast Theatre. 

Ooray says the process of putting together the show has been very fluid. It happens a lot more quickly than MayDay, where Ouray's been working for the past 30 years. "There's an astoundingly low budget. People are basically volunteering their time," she says. Also, the project is much less centralized. "As a director, you don't know from one rehearsal to the next who will be there," she says. "It can be frustrating but also really alive."


BareBones goes 'Chicka-BOOM'
Photo by Jayme Halbritter

7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, plus Halloween
Hidden Falls Regional Park
North Gate Entrance (Magoffin Avenue), 1305 Mississippi River Blvd. S., St. Paul
There will be an audience reception each night after the pageant until 10 p.m. featuring free hot food and drink by Sisters Camelot, and live music by different groups each evening including the Poor Nobodys, Jack Brass Band, Brass Messengers, and Ukrainian Village Band.
All performances are pay what you can ($5-$20 suggested donation upon entry to the show)
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Hidden Falls Park

1415 Mississippi River Blvd. S.
St. Paul, MN 55116


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