EXTRAORDINARILY BEAUTIFUL PIGPEN PROJECT
PigPen Theatre Co.’s The Old Man and the Old Moon is guaranteed to gently pluck at your heartstrings. An enchanting fable told through shadow puppetry, movement, music, and theatrical lighting, this ensemble play seems aesthetically filtered through Instagram. A warm glow emanates from the stage of the Gym at Judson, where a simple story and homespun theatrical devices are transformed into something extraordinarily beautiful.
PigPen’s original folk tale centers on the Old Man (Ryan Melia), whose job is to replenish the moon with liquid light every day. When his wife tires of their sedentary life, she sets out on a rowboat to chase a melody across the ocean – and the Old Man embarks on a journey to find her. While the moon rapidly loses light, the Old Man encounters a troupe of mischievous sailors, ghosts in the belly of a fish, and even a long lost dog (a puppet made out of mops and a milk jug) on an episodic adventure around the world.
Alex Falberg, Arya Shahi, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Dan Weschler, Matt Nuernberger, Ryan Melia, and Nick Lehane formed this bold young company in their freshman year at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2008, and their collaborative camaraderie shows in every aspect of the production. Rather than assign hierarchical roles (director, playwright, composer, etc.), the company comfortably swaps characters and instruments, hangs curtains and shines lights, in refreshing creative synergy with one another.
In collaboration with set/costume/puppet designer Lydia Fine and lighting/projection designer Bart Cortright, PigPen conjures up theatrical magic from nothing more than paper, sheets, and a bit of light: wondrous child’s play. Title cards fly onto a screen as in a motion picture’s opening credits; an intricate shadow village pops up behind a luminous sheet; a paper puppet of the Old Man climbs a towering ladder with his arm extending to reach each tiny rung. Meanwhile, rich harmonies roll across PigPen’s Mumford & Sons-style folk music, enhancing these memorable theatrical moments.
While their long-form narrative work needs refining, PigPen Theatre Co.’s joyous experimentation makes them a company to follow. Their developing aesthetic manages to be simultaneously ancient and hip(ster), transforming theatrical tradition for a new generation.
photos by Joan Marcus
The Old Man and the Old Moon
PigPen Theatre Co. at The Gym at Judson
scheduled to end on November 26, 2012 EXTENDED through January 6, 2013
for tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit Ovation Tix