Big puppets reveal a little girl’s bravery
The puppets are coming! The inspiring prize winning play Maïta, last performed in French at the World Congress and Festival of the Arts four years ago, is being presented in English by Geordie Productions.
“After watching the French presentation, I called Théâtre de la Vieille 17 and the Théâtre de Sable (the play’s a collaborative production) to try to work out a way to present it in English here,” said Dean Patrick Fleming, Geordie’s artistic director.
Written by Esther Beauchemin and translated by Henry Gauthier, Maïta has made a trilingual tour in several US and Canadian cities as well as in Mexico. The theme is moving and can inspire the entire family to talk about children relegated to a life of labour.
“I believe this is an important show for children and adults to see,” said Fleming referring to the play’s plot. Maïta, the 8-year-old daughter of a Southeast Asian puppet maker, is sent by her father to work in a factory in order to pay off family debts. His parting gift is Issane, a precious puppet whose prettiness sparkles in the 1461 pearls that Maïta’s mother has stitched into the enchanting puppet companion. The pearls represent the number of days Maïta will have to work until she is reunited with her father. Every night, she delights all the other children working in the factory by revealing the enchanting tale of Issane – the Princess of Light. The story is also made powerful by the beauty of the tall puppets that bring the stage to life.
Given that the play will open on Geordie’s Mainstage only a few days after International Women’s Day, the timing has impact. “As the piece unfolds, Maïta comes to represent a kind of feminine leader who tells a tale about hope and freedom,” said Robert Bellefeuille, Théâtre de la Vieille’s artistic director.
Everyone loves a puppet show, and ultimately, this is what Geordie superbly delivers in premiering Maïta. The stage is transformed into a world of spectacle where coloured lights shine on traditional Indonesian shadow puppets – sure to mesmerize and entertain children age 7 and up.
Maïta opens Friday, March 13 at 7pm and runs until March 22 with a series of matinées. Performances are at D.B. Clarke Theatre, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve W. Tickets range from $13.50 to $16. Info: 514-845-9810.