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Cultural Olympiad in Whistler

Death on the playbill for Celebration 2010, as part of the 2008 Cultural Olympiad



A puppet, a balding forty-something man in rumbled suit and tie stands on a stage. A Spanish guitar strums tranquilly in the background. The audience is silent. From nowhere a giant arm with clenched fist stretches out above the man, unbeknownst to him. The music crescendos. Hovering no longer, the fist smashes down, flattening the puppet’s head. Laughter erupts from the crowd.

Death is funny. Just one of the many sentiments the Old Trout Puppet Workshop explores in their celebration of dark comedy and death in Famous Puppet Death Scenes, showing Thursday, Jan. 31 to Saturday, Feb. 2 at MY Millennium Place as part of Celebration 2010 and the Cultural Olympiad.

“This must have been totally devastating to watch,” says another puppet grey haired and bony with age after watching the fist “reaper.”

“That tiny, fragile, delicate soul confronted by vast and brutal circumstances. It renders us helpless and hopeful in the same moment — or do we not see glimmering in him that self same luminescence that powers our own hearts. These are not mere blocks of wood that suffer before you. They are your companions.”

The taboo of death is explored in what critiques have called one of the most original theatre going experiences anywhere.

“One of the wildest, wackiest, most inventive ?puppet shows you're ever likely to see,” wrote The Toronto Star, giving the show four out of four stars.

The Globe and Mail also gave the troupe four out of four.

“Indelible visuals... weird and wonderful...?by turns comic, macabre, and sublimely surreal.”?

The Old Trout Puppet Workshop will deconstruct the audience’s traumatized psyche so that death is no longer a tearful, black-suit-and-shoes-wearing tragedy, but just another part of life’s cycle. They offer a cure for a fear of death through the staging of famous death scenes culled from the most famous death scenes in puppet shows, such as Edward’s last meal from The Ballad of Edward Grue, Dung Beetle’s lament from Flap Flap Flap by Lizzie Fook, and Bipsy’s mistake from Bipsy and Mumu Go to the Zoo, to name just a few.

Famous Puppet Death Scenes is only one of more than a dozen events taking place during Celebration 2010, which is an official participant of the Vancouver 2008 Cultural Olympiad.

For the next two years, cultural events will be showcased in B.C. and hopefully extended to the rest of Canada, building and celebrating Canada’s arts, culture and heritage communities. The Cultural Olympiad will then become the Olympic Arts Festival in 2010, showcasing cultural events before, during and after the Games.

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