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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Monika Kováčová (SK)_interview by Orsolya Bálint (KÖM)

Puppet performances for adults are still unusual

The fact that people perceive the same events differently, may lead to funny misunderstandings – sometimes with fatal consequences. One actress, one musician and a few puppets in love are the stars of the chamber puppet performance Love P and Passion B, directed by Monika Kováčová (SK), performed on the first Performing V4 – Biennial of VARP-PA Residents in Prague, on the 27h of February, at 6 p.m in Studio ALTA (with English subtitles). We talked to Monika about making puppet theatre for adults and surrounding the nostalgic wooden puppets with modern technology. 

Your piece is based on the play The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden by Federico Garcia Lorca, with the subtitle An erotic lace-paper valentine in a prologue and three scenes. How did you chose this play to work with?
We (dramaturg Marek Turošík, actress Mária Danadová, producer Adriana Cieślaková and me) wanted to create a puppet performance for adults. So we put together our passion, our desire to create, and the text originally written for puppets by Federico Garcia Lorca to create a performance from a different point of view, with live music.

The piece deals with delicate topics – love, desire, heartbreak, grief – in a very intimate ambient.  Was this also a personal story for you?
I think that love, desire and unfulfilled/fulfilled passion are strongly interconnected with our personal stories and histories. This applies for every person, anywhere around the world. And sometimes you need a sense of humor to survive all these situations. This is the reason why the performance works with intimate visual atmospheres and with humor as well. The other thing, which was important for us during the creative process was the Rashomon effect; meaning the controversial and often contradictory interpretation of the same event by different people (named after the movie Rashômon (1950), directed by Akira Kurosawa). This may lead to many misunderstandings, which can have fatal consequences at times. We were interested in our personal truths, reconstructions and beliefs, which affect our relationships and everyday life. 

As a director, how did you synchronize the roles of the actress and the puppeteer (Mária Danadová plays both) in this performance?
Your question is also connected with the dramaturgy of whole performance, so here is my answer: it is all about concept. And about a great actress with good ideas and skillful hands.

Do you communicate with your puppets too?
Yes, we have strong disagreements, when they don't want to follow our instructions. But our puppets are special, because they have spikes instead of legs, so they can defend themselves. In the literal sense. Our actress can talk about it. She had personal and painful experiences with them.

You will also have live music on stage, does the musician also play a part in the piece?
He is not playing a character from the original play. But his stage partnership with the actress adds a nice chemistry to the play. And we wanted to have something modern and technical as a contrast to the romantic wooden puppets. The present time meets something nostalgic...

How does the adult audience relate to puppets on stage?
In our country, creating puppet performances for adults is still something unusual. Puppets are associated with children. Usually the adults are surprised at first, but their reactions to our performance were very nice.

What did the possibility mean to you to work in the framework of VARP-PA?
When I got the grant from the International Visegrad Fund, it was a key moment in creating our performance. I am a member of the independent creative group Odivo. We do not have our own space, so we are dependent on the help of others. And the support from IVF was an inspiration for other supporters, because when they saw that the Visegrad Fund is standing behind us and giving us a chance, they were more open to dialogue. So this opportunity opened many doors for us. And being in the residency program for the first time was a very positive experience.

Who would you recommend the VARP-PA program to?
Especially for independent groups and for individuals, who want to experiment, meet new possible collaborators and get to know a new country and its audience.

Which other countries or foreign artists do you regularly work with within V4?
During the creation of our performance we worked with Mikoláš Zika, who is studying scenography in Prague. But our creative group Odivo, which produced the performance, is really young, so we hope new co-operations are awaiting us in the future.

Have you ever performed in Prague before?
I have been to Prague, and we will perform Love P and Passion B for the second time there (I am talking about the finished version of performance, because our work in progress after the residency was also shown in Prague).

What do you hope to gain from participating in the Biennial?
International audience, new contacts a lot of inspiration from others. And it will be our first performance with English subtitles, so I hope that the technology will be on our side.

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