Based on a Hans Christian Andersen tale
Feburary 1-24, 2002
Adaptation and direction by Martha Boesing
Conceived and designed by Sandy Spieler
The Nightingale is the story of a simple bird with a beautiful song. It is also about an emperor’s search for his soul and his battle with death.This is an allegory for our time, a tale of haunting beauty, an adult version of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale
Visual images dominate ‘Nightingale’
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre excels with simple-but-profound stories like the company’s current offering, a unique adult adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale.”
Andersen’s tribute to Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale” is, of course, the story of an Oriental emperor who mistakenly prefers to own a mechanical bird rather than accept the gift of song from a nightingale. It is about the superiority of the natural over the artificial, but it is also about the difference between art and artifice.
The version conceived and designed by Sandy Spieler and scripted and directed by Martha Boesing represents the nightingale as a woman – in this case, Esther Ouray, who is bare to the waist and painted blue. Her mechanical counterpart is a life-size gold statue with jeweled eyes.
The most interesting features of this production, however, are atmospheric. Performed in a tiny second-floor studio on Lake Street in Minneapolis, the production requires that about 30 patrons sit on high platforms with their heads scraping the ceiling. The floor is painted a vivid red and a small 10-foot-wide stage at one end of the tiny room is opened frequently to display a dazzlingly lighted (by Doug Pipan) throne.
Like most productions by this company, the visual images – dominated by colorfully costumed masked creations – tend to dominate the performance. There’s also a certain amount of slow-moving, display oriented pageantry.