Maita: Puppet show from Quebec

Over spring break I had the opportunity to see a puppet show from the Quebec companies Théâtre de la Veille 17 and Théâtre de Sable’s production of Maita. It was presented by the Cultch as part of their kid’s series, yet it was shown at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island, as they are currently undergoing renovations. The story told was of a girl who lives somewhere in Asia who needs to leave her family for 1461 days to work at a toy factory in order to pay back her father’s debt. Her father is a shadow puppeteer and he gives her his favorite puppet, Issane, and her mother sews pearls onto its dress, one for every day she will be gone. Each night she gives the other workers a shadow puppet show, and removes one bead from the dress as a way keeping track the time until she returns home.

Maita

Maita

The puppeteers wore black and were on stage yet they became one with the 4-5′ puppets they manipulated. The performers agile skills of voice and movement combined with exquisitely crafted puppets created an enjoyable and artful production. The story brought forth a very real problem that we face in the world today: ‘first world’ children are playing with toys that children in less fortunate countries are fabricating under exploitative conditions. This tale was simple, yet tragic, and for many of the young audience it was possibly too challenging for them to fully understand. In the question and answer period it revealed that many of the youngsters were mostly interested in the puppets, the toy boats and the puff of smoke, however many of the children, especially the preteens were very concerned and interested in the issues involved and they engaged in a very thoughtful discussion after wards.

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