icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


PEN World Voices Festival # 1: Puppets

I arrived at Westbeth around mid-day to find Sophia Michahelles, the Co-Artistic Director of The Processional Arts Workshop, explaining the concepts behind the group’s first collaboration with PEN to a couple of volunteers. “We are losing our physical connection with books. Literature and our literary culture floats or we are floating in it,” she said.

Michaehelles and her colleagues have designed a Parade of Illumination that will open the Festival on the Highline on Monday night, April 30th, at 8:30. All the puppets will be made out of wood and paper. Puppet characters include the New York Public Library lions, Bookman with fingers like typewriter keys, Sweepers, a Cursive Ballerina who writes with her feet, and Biblio Bats. “to honor PEN’s work in support of writers working in the darkness of persecution or incarceration,” Michaehelles said.

Planning began with a request to participating authors to send a 140 character “tweet.” These texts inspired the characters and the vision of the Parade that will proceed slowly, walking North to South along the Highline, with volunteers holding the puppets.

Because the Highline is an intimate, communal space, the evening is certain to be magical and, somehow, sacred. Sweepers will sweep away pages of browned text, commemorating what we have lost, and what still is to be gained in our literary culture. Lanterns will illuminate the procession.

Observing the volunteers at work, I was most touched by their concentration as they pasted and molded browned paper torn from old books and dictionaries onto the wooden forms. It was as labor intensive and reflective as writing itself.

For more information:
Be the first to comment