Volume 93, Issue 38

Friday, November 5, 1999


Weekend Pass

Southworth wins over fans with eclecticism

Jan Wong recounts her rhapsody in red

Birds merely an admirable effort

London art show questions property value


Birds merely an admirable effort

By Bonnie Bonser
Gazette Writer

The Birds, a play written by Aristophanes and performed by the Brescia puppeteers, is a political satire disguised as a comical fantasy, with a few alternations to modernize the symbolism behind the play.

Created, directed and produced by Corona Sharp, The Birds ingeniously shows off the ancient art of puppetry. The puppets, revised from previous years, are flamboyant birds.

The play is put on by 10 readers, with six puppets on stage at a time and a cast of up to 25 different characters. A mixture of both faculty and students managed to create impeccable synchronization between the puppeteers and the readers.

In the play, the puppetry seems to symbolize the lack of solidity in human behaviour within society. The story takes place somewhere in Greece, far away from the corruption of Athens. Two old men, Pistikos and Elpides, are led to a home of mythological birds, in which they try to find some form of peace. Metaphorically, the democratic world of greed in the play is similar to a present day materialistic society. Although done in a humorous tone, the seriousness of the theme is palpable.

With the synchronization of the puppeteers and readers, comes obvious philosophical overtones. The struggle for power between Greek mythological gods, humans and birds is shown with democratic ideals. The chorus of owls represent a classical Greek symbol, meaning "goddess of wisdom" and the birds themselves are symbols of other aspects of Greek mythology.

Typical of Aristophanes, the human error of greed is evident throughout the play, made obvious by the fanatic movements of the puppets and the voices of the readers. Subtle sexual references are also made, another characteristic of Aristophanes. The readers do an impeccable job of delivering these jokes.

However, by sitting in front of the stage, the readers have a huge impact on the overall effect of the show and ended up taking away from the focus of the puppets. On the other hand, having your hand stuck up a puppet for over two hours cannot possibly be an easy task, so all involved deserve credit for pulling off this task.

All told, The Birds could have benefited by being shorter – even with audience involvement, it was still a bit monotonous. And although dreary near the end, the show did an admirable job at showcasing the art of puppeteering.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999