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  •  REVIEW: THE PROSE OF THE SIBERIAN AND THE LITTLE JOAN OF FRANCE

      The Prose of the Siberian and the Little Joan of France
    String section

    People and puppets enact Blaise Cendrars' 1913 poem about the time of the Russo-Japanese war in the unusual and touching "The Prose of the Siberian and the Little Joan of France."

    By ROBIN EISGRAU
    Offoffoff.com


    This presentation by the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre and Contemporary Dance Wyoming blends dance, poetry and puppetry into an elegiac, meditative potpourri.

    Underneath two large pieces of lacy fabric suspended high above the stage a wistful saxophone plays as the dancers move suitcases and trunks onto the stage. Some are carrying crutches and they walk and pause, going places but nowhere really. The dancers then remove their coats, revealing turn-of-the-century white and off-white undergarments, and an actor at the rear of the stage recites a poem in French as puppets and more dancers emerge from trunks and suitcases.

    THE PROSE OF THE SIBERIAN AND THE LITTLE JOAN OF FRANCE
    Company: Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre.
    Directed by: Vit Horejs.
    Choreography by: Babs Case.
    Music by: Jemeel Moondoc.

    Related links: Official site
      
    The narrator then reads (in English) Blaise Cendrars' 1913 poem in prose about traveling on the Transsiberian Railroad through Russia in the time of the Russo-Japanese war. The poem is a searing, vivid document of train travel during troubled times. The Little Joan of the poem's title is a prostitute the author seems to feel tethered to and may very well love — but if he does so it's in a way tinged with contempt.

    Dozens of puppets are maneuvered by the dancers when the narrator talks about the war. The movements of the dancers and their deft puppetry add an intricate visual layer to the poet's words, making them come alive in a delicate, involving manner.

    APRIL 16, 2001
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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