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BLIND: Puppetry with Punch
Stirring, poignant, physical, and lyrical BLIND is the first time world renowned dancer / puppeteer Duda Paiva has performed in Melbourne. Inspired by his childhood experiences in Brazil, BLIND is a turbulent blend of physical memories, mysticism, hope and despair. After performing a two-week season to enraptured crowds, the reviews are in!
‘When dancer and puppeteer Duda Paiva was a child living in Brazil, he became very ill and temporarily lost his sight. Blind begins as Paiva, disfigured with huge lumps and wearing goggles, asks the audience why they’re also waiting to see the curandera, the healer.
Now based in the Netherlands, Paiva has developed this extraordinary work with Melbourne director Nancy Black and it comes to Theatre Works after a European tour.
The healer is Madame, a magnificent bald and bare-breasted puppet in a white hooped skirt. Sculpted with scissors from spongy foam, her face is as emotive as any human visage. She’s intimidating, but it’s easy to believe her touch can love the illness out of anyone – until she violently rips open one of Paiva’s lumps and he meets what’s been growing in his lumps.
The hidden puppets expand into human-like creatures and quickly reject their metaphoric origins. They’re creepy and unformed, but so expressive and real that the difference between an innocent and a monster – between protecting and fighting – isn’t as obvious as it seems.
Paiva dances alone and with his puppets, and he dances to let his puppets live. By never hiding his full-body manipulation of his creations, they are always connected to him but are never seen as him.
Although Blind doesn’t necessarily fit with the audience-driven encounters that dominate this Festival of Live Art, it’s a theatre experience that openly hands interpretation to its audience. It’s as delightful as it is heartbreaking and too beautiful to define.’
★★★★ – Sydney Morning Herald March 14, 2016
‘From go to whoa this wonderful ‘grownups’ puppet show is a rich rewarding delight. Funny and even ‘laugh out loud’ to start with, Blind is a marvelous and often tantalizingly surprising journey. Master puppeteer and artist Duda Paiva in communion with, through breathing life and voice into, his exquisite delicate puppets – delights his audience.
Paiva is a charismatic, consummate, relaxed and spontaneous performer who engages with disarming sincerity.
The work created in collaboration with Director Nancy Black is predicated on experiences of childhood illness and blindness from which Paiva recovered. As a trained dancer Paiva moves with wonderful contorted and controlled extensions.
Sound (Wilco Alkema) is usually subtle and underpins with a pervading sense of mystery and Lighting (Mark Verhoef) serves the piece beautifully.
Like the murky underbelly of a very old fairytale Blind seems to to be a tricky, to the death, tussle between good and evil that rewards partly through catharsis and partly through wonder at its uniqueness. It is a work about healing on a deep shamanistic level that allows one to tap into the inner child’s sense of curiosity and, leaves one feeling elevated and joyful.’
Suzanne Sandow – Stage Whispers
BLIND: Puppetry with Punch
‘A man (Duda Paiva) whose body is contorted with massive tumours waits uncertainly to see a curandeiro, a shaman healer
She’s like Star Trek’s Borg queen, a pale skull and bare torso atop a hollow crinoline. She has glittering dark eyes and a howling voice. In return for removing his growths, she demands that he “bring beauty” to her. The tumours come to lanky life and betray the man’s divided personality: one is an angry and violent boy who calls his progenitor a monster, the other is a sheepishly pretty and vulnerable girl. One craves freedom, the other needs protection.
Paiva’s ability as a puppeteer is more than matched by skills as a ventriloquist and dancer. All too often, the conjured spectacle of puppetry is an end in itself. In Blind, playing at Melbourne’s Theatreworks until March 19, the illusion and animation are used obliquely to explore the psychology of sickness and explode our notions of attraction and repulsion.
Blind is a sophisticated, imaginative, rich and penetrating piece.’
Chris Boyd – The Australian – March 11 2016
All images and text © Black Hole Theatre