- Photo by Jim Beckwith
- The celebrated ensemble Paperhand Puppet Intervention is the subject of a new documentary that screens Friday.
A Puppet Intervention
Century Center—Since 1998, the creative community known as Paperhand Puppet Intervention has been staging elaborate spectacles (calling them "puppet shows" doesn't do them justice) before rapt audiences. Combining dance, live original music, masks, stilts, poetry, politics, pathos, silliness, wonder and, yes, puppets, their annual summer extravaganza is one of the enviable perks of living in the Triangle.
Pittsboro producer Mark Barroso filmed the team while it prepared for the 2007 show, A Shoe for Your Foot. His affectionate documentary portrait, A Puppet Intervention, shows the full sweep of the group's creative process, from rough sketches to showtime. An early scene shot at an outdoor café in Chapel Hill shows the fruitful interchange between the two founders and chief artistic directors: patient, thoughtful and Zen-like Jan Burger and untempered, extroverted Donovan Zimmerman.
The film shows the lows and highs of the rehearsal process—a cast member breaks her arm, a new song added at the last minute makes the cut—as the show gels into a polished production. The cameras also capture the magical effect of putting on a production in the stone amphitheater of the North Carolina Botanical Garden at night; the drama heightens as the darkness deepens and slowly envelops the stage.
The last word goes to bandleader and songwriter Jimmy Magoo, whose gorgeous musical arrangement accompanies the couplet, "The most amazing things I see/ are ordinary." Which is fitting for a group that uses ordinary and often scavenged materials, along with the talents of a dedicated corps of amateur performers, to craft fantastical, extraordinary visions.
The filmmaker and puppeteers will attend the screenings, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5. Parents should note that the film contains strong language that may not be appropriate for young children. —Marc Maximov
- Ashley Atkins
2nd Annual Mini Femme Fest
The Cave—Six acts exhibit the delicate beauty and fierce power of womanhood over two nights. Ashley Chambliss kicks the festival off on Friday with intimate lyrics and dreamy piano pop. It's music for hot nights or lazy mornings in bed. Scarlet Virginia continues the evening with slowly rolling coffee-shop music and vocal harmonies. Slightly world-weary, the young five-piece is gentle, reflective and regenerative. Taz Halloween headlines the first night. Halloween's sultry, velvet-coated, country-tinged torch songs ooze with confidence and sexuality.
If Friday is quiet and sultry, Saturday rocks. Melody-conscious Ashley Atkins picks things up with her alt-rock, letting out an occasional snarl. On her song "Psycho," Atkins reflects, "So what if I go through your garbage?/ I just want to learn more things about you." Rebekah Pulley then delivers folk-rock with a little slow-burning twang. The Hwy54 Band brings the festival to a close with its combination of protest songs and funky blues-rock. The music starts at 7:30 p.m. each night, with the second band taking the stage after a short break at 10 p.m. Feel free to give more than the $5 cover since the event helps raise money for Girls Rock NC and the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Local comedienne Michelle Maclay hosts. —Andrew Ritchey