I was privileged to attend the opening of The Old Trout Puppet Workshop’s Ignorance last month at Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre. Often on opening night of a production attended by an inordinate number of friends and colleagues, one feels a certain responsibility to be very nice, and to say very nice things to everyone, especially when it comes to the show. I didn’t have to worry about that with this one. Quite the opposite. From the opening entrance of the yellow smiley balloon narrator, I felt taken care of by the Old Trouts and their puppets. This is not to say they were superfluously nice to us, the audience. They did better than that — they told us how they really felt.
The Old Trouts describe this as an open creation show, and by that they mean “the entire show has been written on the web for all to see and for all to comment, criticize, or contribute.” A truly ambitious process to attempt, much less realize. Writing with a partner or within a collective can be a very rewarding and, at the same time, frustrating process. To allow that process to be open to anyone, anywhere, anytime through the anonymity of the internet is pretty crazy — but they sure make it work. I, for one, will be following their blog more closely from now on.
The smiley narrator balloon quickly breaks down our modern lives, and offers a look into the root of where all this dissatisfaction with day-to-day living comes from. We travel back and forth between modern us, represented nicely by rather geriatric puppet gits, and prehistoric us, as represented by beautifully ignorant, hollow-eyed rocks with sticks for limbs. I particularly enjoyed the prehistoric creatures who appeared to have recently crawled out of the earth with designs on evolving into full blown creative types within one lifetime. Something I can relate to.
The prehistoric rocks and modern gits of the tale weave themselves forward to our current existence with the message that the evolutionary spark that got us here, that keeps us here, and that moves us forward, is creativity. The argument is simple and sound, and the message is a great one to open up for worldwide debate. Thanks to the Old Trouts for facilitating it, and sharing the results with us.
Words by Graham McDonald, photography by Ilijc Albanese.
see more photos here
Originally published in analogue magazine’s February 2014 issue