SAXTONS RIVER -- Donald Saaf and Julia Zanes will offer performances of their original production The "Green Gold Tree" on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., at Main Street Arts.
The two-hour marionette show based on Goethe’s "Faust" features 32 marionettes conceived and created by Zanes, live music, shadow puppets and projections. The words are taken directly from the text, with pre-recorded voices of people from the community, and live music.
The production had its debut in late June at the Brattleboro Museum & Arts Center, where it was greeted with a standing ovation. The MSA performance offers further refinement, according to Zanes and Saaf.
Michele Ratte printed the gold textiles that the puppets wear, and she and Julia Jenson helped with puppet making. Oliver Schemm built the stage specifically for this show, and the Bluebird Orchestra featuring Saaf, Duke Johnson and Rick Contino will play original music written by Saaf.
Zanes’ impulse in interpreting the story was to pluck the scenes with the greatest visual appeal. "But in the end," she said recently, "it might have been the puppets and the story controlling the artists rather than the other way around."
The first half of the show follows Faust I, concluding with the death of Gretchen. The second half is specific scenes excerpted from Faust II.
Due to the sophisticated nature of the show, it is not suitable for children.
Saaf and Zanes come to this project with backgrounds in the visual arts and music and five years of passionate amateur marionette shows. They have studied the Faust story for the past year and recognize its importance in the history of puppetry and feel almost evangelical about it in that it is pertinent to this historic moment.
They also include in their goals the desire to collectively engage more deeply with this story and have tried to focus on a few aspects that appeal the most to them, including the concept of the redemptive power of nature. They say that, while it has been a pleasure to spend time on the research, their hope is that, as with their other shows, "The Green Gold Tree" will ultimately entertain and delight.