Photo courtesy In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
Several years ago, director and puppeteer Bart Buch was intrigued by the story The Little Prince and wanted to bring a fully fledged puppet production to the stage.
Buch couldn't get the rights for the story, so he dug into some of the most ancient tales known in an attempt to find a similar vibe. This effort comes to fruition with kid enkidu, which opens this weekend at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre.
The show grew out of that idea and work that Buch did along the years to create a character named Nature Boy, with stories centered on the imagination and the natural world. In turn, he took inspiration from the epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu was the hero's greatest friend and companion, and a character born of the "wild" world outside of civilization.
Enkidu was "the original nature boy," Buch says.
The piece comes together via puppetry, screen projections (which include styles of puppetry as well), poetry, and original music by Martin Dosh and Tom Woodling.
Buch employs several puppetry styles through the piece, including bunraku (puppets worn on the feet and manipulated with rods), hand puppets, masks, digital, and shadow puppets.
"For the main characters, I like to have a lot of different versions of the same puppet. People can identify with it more if they see different versions of it," he says.
Natural movement is a key piece of the show. For a herd of deer, much thought was given to creating a realistic leap for them as they move across the stage. "They are made out of foam and wrapped with fabric and engineers with wire and duct tape and washers to give them the right weight to leap," Buch says.
Buch has worked with the musicians previously, which is important for the puppeteer, as most of his work doesn't use spoken language.
Both Dosh and Woodling build their pieces up with multiple layers. That affect fits perfectly with the mood of the show, Buch says.
"They develop pieces of music over time. I try to give emotional descriptors to the musicians, or sometimes I come to jam sessions," he adds.
Buch was confident when interviewed last week that the show was on its way. "I feel like the layers are coming together. This is kind of the fun part when I get to see things line up."
In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
1500 E. Lake St. Minneapolis
Thursday, January 24 through February 10
For tickets and information, call 612.721.2535 or visit online