Gulliver’s Travels

Friday, May 13, 2011. The story begins at 8pm.

You enter to find a figure lying on the floor. Pinned down with a thousand tiny pegs, face twisting, the marionette struggles to turn to you, appealing for your help. Listen to the story of this Gulliver’s travels.

Gulliver’s Travels is a theatre of no actors by author-scenographer Helen Yung. The title, Gulliver’s Travels, is taken from the classic English satire and sometimes children’s story of the same name by Jonathan Swift. A networked installation, Helen’s Gulliver’s Travels uses digital text-to-speech technology to animate the marionette’s story without the assistance of an actor. Like an old-time storyteller, Helen will create the story on-site, while relying on rehearsed or recycled elements to maintain flow. To give the outputted speech some colour and character, the sound is processed live using digital effects.

The puppet was selected instead of an actor to make use of its allusive, poetic qualities. Within the Symbolist drama movement, the puppet or marionette was idealized for its ability to convey other-worldliness – referring the audience to the archetype and the supernatural rather than the personality and the particular. Few Symbolist dramas, however, were ever staged with puppets even if they were written with marionettes in mind.

Gulliver’s Travels is a new work I am creating. It will be presented next year by Festival Accès Asie and Oboro Gallery in Montreal, QC.

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