Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 9:32 a.m.
For its holiday show this year, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre has brought back Between the Worlds, a winter-solstice piece first created in 1992 by Esther Ouray and Laurie Witzkowski, along with creative team members Sandy Spieler, Julie Kastigar, and Marg Rozycki. Featuring songs from around the world, the production is a feast for the ears as well as the eyes, employing stunning imagery throughout.
The performance starts out with a circle, a motif that is repeated throughout the evening. Here, women of all ages, dressed in white, gather, sing, and walk in circles as they greet each other and welcome the audience with song. It's a beautiful moment, especially when you consider how rarely you see such a large amount of women onstage together, much less women of such diverse age ranges.
The whiteness of the costumes is soon pierced with red as the women reveal scarlet bird puppets that fly through the air. Streams of red material float above the audience in the first of many stunning visual moments in the show.
During the piece, the costumes of the women shift from white to earth-toned winter wear before they finally go black. Throughout the production, the performers wear masks and handle amazing puppets of all sizes. This includes a purple and red bird that dances beautifully around the stage, various fearsome death puppets, and more. At one point, the performers become old crones and watch a puppet show that transforms into a haunting journey into death. There's actually very little dialogue in the show, but it draws your attention the whole time regardless, in part because the of the beautiful imagery and lively songs.
Much like HOBT's annual MayDay Parade, Between the Worlds explores life and death cycles, embracing the changes of both the seasons and the aging process not as something to be feared, but as something that just is. They achieve this through humor, through relationships between the women, through lively songs, and ultimately with a powerful stillness that fills the theater.
Unfortunately, due to this show's popularity, all of the shows this weekend have been sold out. However, HOBT has added one show on Sunday, December 22 at 6 p.m.