The 9th Mukamas International Puppet Theatre Festival is held in Tampere this week. It is hosted by Theatre Mukamas, a 35-year old professional puppet theatre in Tampere.
Theatre Mukamas resides in a former voluntary fire brigade house in Pispala. In the olden days it was a venue for all kinds of entertainment, now it is the most idyllic home of puppet theatre magic in Tampere. Geoffrey Navias and Leslie Archer are participating in the festival for the first time, and this is their very first impression of the Mukamas house:
– It's warm and welcoming. And look, the coat hooks are at child's level.
Navias and Archer's Open Hand Theater from Syracuse, New York is one of the international guests on the festival. They have something special to offer: a world premiere called That Old Mr. Fox.
– It is a story about home, relationships there and the changes that happen as you get older, tells Navias.
That Old Mr. Fox is a story for adults and children over 8 years. Navias and Archer agree that it would be a good experience for families and could provide a gentle way to bring the cycle of life into conversations. The performance is made for international audiences: it is in English but not in so many words that understanding the language would be an issue. Instead there is live music and, of course, puppets.
– Small puppets, life-size puppets and larger than life-size ones. Also masks, stilt dancing and human characters, says Archer.
The 9th Mukamas International Puppet Theatre Festival celebrates with 35 acts from 8 countries on 7 stages around Tampere. Mansi Stycz is the artistic director of the festival and also a founding member of Mukamas Theatre. A lot has happened during 35 years – and is still happening.
– In the beginning we had nothing but plenty of good ideas and our hands. Now we have all this, Stycz says as she is sitting in the Mukamas house and listening to the festival guests talking in various languages.
Where is the magic in puppet theatre? I'm not the first one to ask, and Stycz has her answer ready.
– It is the way that a simple puppet can be brought to life. At one moment it is an inanimate object, then suddenly it has feelings and the audience is feeling with it, Stycz explains.
There is also a great element of surprise because there is really no limit to what one can do with a puppet. Being small at one moment and giant the next – no problem, all you need is two puppets. Flying, being burned to ashes, living under water, loosing one's limbs and having them reattached… anything.
You'll find the festival programme here.