Venue: Experience Theater
About Planet Egg
Simultaneously performed and filmed live with a live score of Foley Sound, and projected video feed, PuppetCinema’s inaugural show, Planet Egg creates both a theatrical intimacy with miniature puppets and a cinematic grandness worthy of an epic space odyssey. The visual world of Planet Egg is comprised of found and organic objects, crafted creations, and electronic parts who reside on a moving Lazy Susan like contraption. The Robot, his ship, and all his belongings are made from pieces of old stereos, telephones, springs, and other metal bits. Some of Planet Egg’s natives are sculpted from clay, while many are made of vegetable matter. A love story in deep space, Planet Egg features two unlikely friends, The Robot Cosmonaut and a Scallion alien creature. A herd of aggressive mushrooms and dangerous molten lava (volcanic fried eggs) are their foils. The story is told with minimal language on a desolate interplanetary fantasy world with creatures who are all good and all cute. And all hungry.
Planet Egg began one night at dinner with my parents. We were eating sunny side up eggs at the table while my dad, an engineer, was fixing an old radio. I have always liked playing with my food, and for a brief moment, my egg resembled the surface of a planet and the radio's electronic parts looked like robots and space vehicles. Could this be the beginnings of a sci-fi adventure? The concept of PuppetCinema’s live film making aesthetic was born when I bought an old video camera and a projection screen. Now whatever this was…. it could be seen by a larger audience- not just by the immediate members of my family. PuppetCinema has developed since that meal, but it’s still very much about interesting encounters between different materials and media and trying to bring a synergy to the table.
I owe a certain debt to the “behind the scenes” documentaries of my childhood- from Batman to Jim Henson’s masterpieces Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. These films hold the magic of making it all happen. It was a very natural move to incorporate that feeling into our storytelling.
Yet something was still missing in rehearsals. It was too smooth somehow. Where was the struggle? The sweat? How do you show the complexity of the process live on stage? The idea of risk took hold.
The audience sees the story of the robot and alien, on stage and on screen, and now there are the added narrative elements-the moment of invention, the joy we have as performers and creators in making something new come to life before your eyes, and the suspense that it might all go awry if we make a mistake.
The story, based on the classic catalyst of space crash and culture clash, was further inspired by a weird event when a flock of green birds, not native to Israel, started to appear in Tel Aviv. These ring-necked parakeets, a gregarious tropical Afro-Asian bird, were brought to Israel for research purposes during the 60’s. They escaped, and slowly started to colonize the nests and food sources of other local birds, becoming a dominant figure in the inviting climate of Tel Aviv. The nature of these beautiful birds, being simultaneously innocent and aggressive, influenced the inhabitants of Planet Egg. Our invasion story became not simply about good and bad, but about the nature of any living being. Here, on this inhospitable planet, the creatures are all good... and all hungry.
Using a cinematographic aesthetic, a documentarian's eye and the tropes of cinema verité, Zvi Sahar shapes the audience’s focus with a strong and steady hand. He pulls back the curtains to reveal and highlight the backstage business. The audience has the feeling that the show is being created right in front of their eyes! Reality and fantasy are blurred and a sort of double vision occurs. But make no mistake, it’s all about the story.
PuppetCinema began in 2009 as a theatrical experiment in Israel, combining elements of puppetry, object theater, film and live camera feed. Using live feed to project the miniature scenes created live on stage, PuppetCinema's mission is to explore the dialogue between the complementary mediums in order to build an artistic synergy. The puppets and other theatrical aspects create the live energy of the here and now; the camera, which actively participates in the dramatic events, enriches the world of the puppets by revealing new angles, perspectives and visuals in a way not possible in conventional theater or storytelling. The interaction between puppets and camera, together with the backstage presence of the puppeteers, wires, actors, projections, cables, foley artists, cameraman, scenic and lighting technicians – all of which are equally and intentionally exposed – deepens the dramatic story and creates a new and integral theatrical experience.
Zvi Sahar, Itim Ensemble and PuppetCinema Artistic Director/Performer
In 2009, Zvi Sahar established PuppetCinema, presenting Planet Egg at the prestigious Puppet Lab at St. Ann’s Warehouse in NYC. Since then, he has continued to develop his unique language, mixing puppetry and video in such works as; Salt of the Earth (based on Amos Kenan’s The Road to Ein Harod), American premiere at BAM’s Next Wave Festival (2014). In 2017 Sahar premiered two new shows: Gulliver, based on Jonathan Swift’s satire, produced by Hazira Performance Art Arena at the International Puppet Festival in Jerusalem and Suddenly, based on Etgar Keret’s book of short stories, produced by The Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv and scheduled to perform at BAM’s Next Wave Festival (December 2017). His works have also been presented in various festivals around the world including: Richard III at Tmu-na Theater and Oedipus Rex at Hasimta Theater (with his colleague, Oded Littman). Sahar holds a degree in acting from SELA performing school and a BA (summa cum laude) in theater studies from Haifa University. In the spring of 2016, he was an Artist in Residence at the University of Maryland, as part of the Schusterman Foundation Visiting Israeli Artist program. Today Sahar works on a new show based on King Matthew by Jaush Korchak, and Body, a dance performance with PearsonWidrig Dance Company, NYC.
Michal Vaknin, Performer/Co-Director
Michal Vaknin is a Jerusalem born artist, having worked intimately with PuppetCinema on Planet Egg (Hong Kong and NYC), Salt of the Earth (Puppeteer/Collaborator, NYC, Israel) and Gulliver (Puppeteer/Collaborator, Israel). Vaknin is currently the artistic director of Mekudeshet-a city-specific art and culture annual festival in Jerusalem, created by The Jerusalem Season of Culture. She is also a director, actress and puppeteer with a BA in Theater from Haifa University. Directing and credits include: New Rituals, Confessions, Knock Knock, The Opposite of Alive (immersive site-specific performances created for JSOC). She is a co-creator in Yuval Hameiri’s film I Think This Is The Closest To How The Footage Looked (Winner of Sundance short film Jury Award for nonfiction) and an associate director to Dr. Atay Citron in Ebisu- a research group in which 7 of 8 actors are deaf, aiming to create a theatrical language based on sign language. She is an actress on The House by the Lake by Yael Rasooly and Ya’ara Goldring (Charleville, Berlin, Silkeborg and other International Puppet Festivals).
Kobe Shmueli, Sound Artist
Kobe Shmueli studied at Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music and studied Sound Engineering at Sapir College. He began his musical journey on the piano and later started playing jazz on the saxophone in addition to composing original music. His current influences span the gamut from classical to electronic and reflects the versatile and unique music man, Kobe Shmueli is today. He lives in Tel Aviv and works in the music industry as a producer and composer.
Shachar Montlake, Technical Direction
Shachar Montlake grew up in the old city in Jerusalem. She studied sound engineering at the Yoav Gera Sound School in Tel Aviv. Shachar is involved in various cultural and artistic projects mainly in puppet theatre. Shachar is the VP of The Edge productions – a company that creates and produces big cultural events around Jerusalem. Shachar also plays in a band called Dvar-Ma, an acoustical band that composes poems of Hayim Nahman Bilalik, who is considered to be Israel’s National poet.
Written and Directed：Zvi Sahar
Sound Designer, Music and Live Sound Effects：Kobe Shmueli
Puppeteers：Zvi Sahar, Michal Vaknin
Puppets：Michal Abulafia, Ien Denio, Eti Sahar and Marbeyad Studio
Set Design：Roey Vatury and Shiran Levi
Costumes Design：Judith Aharon
Lighting Design：Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi)
Tech Director：Shachar Montlake
Puppetry Director：Gony Paz
Assistant Director：Hen David
Developing Crew：Michal Vaknin, Justin Perkins and Ien Denio
International Tours：as is presenting arts
Organizer: National Theater and Concert Hall
●CHINA DEVELOP FOUNDATION
●ISRAEL ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL OFFICE IN TAIPEI
●Taipei Garden Hotel
Approx. 55 minutes without intermission.
Latecomers will not be admitted.
Age guidance 5+
The program is subject to change.
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