Originally posted September 30, 2013 1:26pm by Emily O’Donnell at http://tinyurl.com/kpwul4w
Frank is an office drone; he is obsessed with cleanliness and order. He sits at his desk, one hand clutching an oversized coffee mug. He stares straight ahead, seeing nothing, unspeaking. Behind him, three men control his movements, his every gesture.
Frank is the protagonist of Robin Frohardt’s play “The Pigeoning.” Frank is also a puppet, albeit an incredibly lifelike puppet with wide staring eyes, thick glasses and graying hair. The show utilizes the bunraku style of puppetry, a traditional method that involves visible puppeteers. Sometimes the puppeteers wear black hoods to blend into the background and remain unseen, but in “The Pigeoning” the puppeteers are unmasked and visible.
“The Pigeoning” is a puppet show for adults. Frohardt says the “themes of obsessive compulsion, the end of the world, clinging to control and ideas of safety” are definitely geared more towards an older crowd. The show is also unique in its lack of dialogue. There is no spoken dialogue in the show; instead there is original music by Freddi Price, a musician and composer who co-founded the Apocalypse Puppet Theater with Frohardt in San Francisco. Frohardt says she is “interested in the challenge of communicating an entire story through movement and music.”
“Being able to communicate visually is very appealing,” says Frohardt. She designed and created all the puppets in the show, and she is also the writer and director. Frohardt says she became involved with puppetry because she “loved the idea of making beautiful objects that are alive.”
Frohardt created the character of Frank several years ago for her Apocalypse Puppet Theater, which was founded in 2006. “The Pigeoning” is Frank’s back-story, tracing how drastically the character changes over time. The story follows Frank’s obsession with the pigeons around him that he believes are conspiring against him. He devolves from his fastidious nature into a state of disheveled chaos, emerging utterly transformed.
“The Pigeoning” will premiere at the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts on October 9th, 10th and 12th at 7pm.