Land of No Shadows

dance & physical theatre · shilo kloko · Ages 18+ · United States of America

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Puppets are used in various ways; as a spiritual medium, animatable toy, actor, prop, babysitter, victim of violence, adultified entertainer. In this piece, we plan to portray a fluid relationship between puppet and puppeteer, reflecting our fluid social and emotional status as humans, rather than the conventional puppet-master hierarchy.

In the piece, the role of the puppet will shift from merely an object that can be manipulated (friend, slave, missing soulmate, psychological mirror), to a spiritual vessel according to how puppeteer establishes her relationship to it. This shift will be expressed in slow transformation.

By adopting elements from Butoh (a Japanese dance form), we will present our characters onstage as abstract forms, into which the performers’ and audience’s imaginations can flow.

Inspired by culture of Japan, our work aims to expand the definition of beauty. Japanese traditional puppets and dolls are often believed to be ritualistic vessels, to receive divinity inside. Respect towards puppets brings graceful presence to both stage and audience. We are inspired to expand on this element and adopt it in a contemporary context.

We came up with an experiment to objectify puppeteer’s body to put it to the same level as puppet, by adopting physical and philosophical technique of butoh, a type of contemporary dance form. Dance also holds a characteristics of presenting human body as abstraction, beyond specific symbolism.

Animation
Since two members of our team have extensive animation experience, we would like to occasionally add animated video projected into the live puppet performances, both as background elements and also as images projected directly onto the puppets and performers (because Butoh peformers wear white facial and body make up, in our production they can also serve as moving video screens).

One way we plan to utilize animation is as mysterious shadows that are manipulating the puppeteers. The idea for this springs from the Japanese puppeteer’s traditional costume kuroko, a black costume to hide themselves on stage. It is sometimes said that puppeteers wear black as a shadow of puppets.

But when a puppet is moved by a puppeteer, who is moving the puppeteer? We plan to use animated shadows as entities manipulating the people manipulating the puppets. Just as our inner fears cause us to see monsters and boogymen in dark spots in daily life, our animation will delicately depict the shadow’s expressional relationship between puppeteer and puppet.

production team

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