The Dead Puppet Society’s award-winning work “The Wider Earth” will take the stage at the Redland Performing Arts Center (Queensland) in March.
From writer/director/co-designer David Morton, “The Wider Earth” theatrically traces a journey to the other side of the world with a 22-year-old Charles Darwin. . . The scene comes to life with cinematic projection and stunning puppets.
An ensemble cast will fill the space, accompanied by intricately designed puppets representing the fascinating creatures Darwin encountered on his voyage from the Beagle.
We chat with “The Wider Earth” cast member and puppeteer Liesel Zink about the joys and challenges of his role on the show.
Tell us a bit about your involvement in “The Wider Earth”.
I’m a puppeteer, which means I have to operate 11 different animals, from tiny fireflies to the majestic southern right whale. I also play a sailor on the ship, the Beagle, who faces many adventures and challenges on her journey.
How would you describe the show in your own words?
Truly magical! It’s an exciting opportunity to travel alongside a young Charles Darwin as he explores the world and makes life-changing discoveries. It’s a compelling story with lots of puppets you’ll fall in love with, remarkable visual effects and a great musical score composed by Lior.
You are also a dancer. Were you able to use this skill in the role of a puppeteer in “The Wider Earth”?
Absoutely! Being a puppeteer in this show is like having a collection of dance duets with many different animals. Each different animal, like each different dance partner, has different ways of moving; different rhythms, behaviors and personalities to work with, it’s really joyful and sometimes tricky! Certainly, some puppets/animals behave better than others! It’s also very nice to share the stage with such exceptional actors, I’m in awe of their craft so it’s really exciting to see them in action up close.
Image © Prudence Upton
How does it feel to play a role like that?
Such a privilege. It’s so interesting to seek out each different animal, to embody them and, in a certain way and for a little while, to discover the world through their point of view. It definitely reinforced my respect for the incredible and diverse animal species that live on our planet, many of which existed long before us.
Is there a certain way you have to present yourself/act to blend in with the puppet/staging?
Well, it’s really important that I don’t overpower the puppet with dramatic or distracting moves! So my gaze stays directly on what I want the audience to look at, the puppet. I also spend some time breathing with the puppet before we go on stage, we hang out and interact with people and props backstage before we make our entrance.
What is your favorite puppet to operate in “The Wider Earth” and why?
Oh, that’s a very difficult question, I love them all! If I had to narrow it down to three, I would say; the iguana, for its brave little personality; the arctic tern, because it is so pleasant to see its wings flapping in the breeze; and the Galápagos giant tortoise, because there is something quite incredible about exploiting an animal that can live well over 100 years.
What has been most rewarding about your involvement with “The Wider Earth”?
Working with such a talented group of artists and friends. Especially after two such tough years, it’s been an incredible joy to be back in the rehearsal room doing what we love and then on stage sharing what we’ve created with the audience. It’s such an epic and beautiful show, we can’t wait to share it with everyone!
How about the most difficult?
Squirrel puppeteer; those squirrels move SO fast!
‘The Wider Earth’ plays at the Redland Performing Arts Center on March 24.