New techniques from Paperhand Puppet in The Big Tent Cabaret Road Show | Theater | Indy Week

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New techniques from Paperhand Puppet in The Big Tent Cabaret Road Show

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By now, Paperhand Puppet Intervention knows how to instill a sense of wonder in its audience with such articles as paper, paste, paint and bamboo. That sense of wonder was certainly present during the first act of The Big Tent Cabaret Road Show, when a series of beloved human and animal puppets from the company's 12-year existence return in new sketch work incorporating the music of Jimmy Magoo's band.

But the real revelation comes during the second-act debut of "Lumanity," a roughly 25-minute work that takes place in total darkness. Using new lighting technology, the company creates characters out of single thin lines of colored light—basically the visual equivalent of those stick figures from a game of Hangman—that extend from each actor's torso to his or her head, hands and feet. The theatrical potential of these new toys may still be in the early stages of development, but it's already clear the company is onto something. In Donovan Zimmerman's choreography, it's striking how many emotions simple stick figures are able to convey, including confusion, sneakiness and unadulterated joy. His characters dance, jump and occasionally defy gravity to the band's funky beats, as they play with hoops and multicolored orbs that transform into something you really don't want me to describe here. See it for yourself, before the show closes Sunday.

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