Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival presents
The Immortal Jellyfish Girl
A co-production with Nordland Visual Theatre
Written and Directed by: Gwendolyn Warnock & Kirjan Waage
with help from the ensemble
Executive Producer: Gabrielle Brechner
CIPT Festival Performers: Alexandra Bråss, Dorothy James, Andy Manjuck, Peter Russo, Kirjan Waage, Olivia Zerphy
Original Ensemble: Lei-Lei Bavoil, Alexander Burnett, François Couder, Jon Levin, Dorothy James, Andy Manjuck, Peter Russo, Kyra Vandenenden, Olivia Zerphy
Puppet Design & Construction: Kirjan Waage
Props & Additional Puppet Construction: Lei-Lei Bavoil, Dorothy James, Virginia Manning, Jack Markussen, Eve Warnock
Original Music & Sound Design: Thor Gunnar Thorvaldsson
Projection Design: Erato Tzavara
CIPT Festival Lighting Design: Daphne Agosin
Lighting Design: Jan Erik Skarby with Marianne Thallaug
Associate Lighting Design: Liam Corley
Additional Projection Design: OBLSK
Set Design, Costume Design: Gwendolyn Warnock & Kirjan Waage
Additional Prop, Painting & Sewing: Virginia Manning, Mack Pegram, Marlon Rajan, Cornelia Waage
Technical Director: Johnnie Schleyer
NORDLAND VISUAL THEATRE
GEIR-OVE ANDERSEN, YNGVILD ASPELI, PREBEN FAYE-SCHJØLL,
ANNE SJILD KOLSETH, JAN ERIK SKARBY, TIM LUCASSEN, ANNE SØRFJELL
WAKKA WAKKA PRODUCTIONS
GABRIELLE BRECHNER, ANDY MANJUCK, PETER RUSSO, KIRJAN WAAGE, GWENDOLYN WARNOCK
The Immortal Jellyfish Girl was created with support from: Arts Council Norway,
The Jim Henson Foundation, Spenn Norway, and the Fund for Light & Image Norway.
The metaphor of Puppeteer as God has long been associated with puppetry. Like Gods, Puppeteers have the power to create and to destroy. They have control over every element in the world of the puppet show. However, as we enter the Anthropocene in this age of climate change and mass extinctions it feels as if Puppeteer as Man is probably a more accurate metaphor. Human beings are now playing with elements which in the past were reserved for the Gods. We are creators of hurricanes and droughts, genetically modified food, and gender selected children. Our relationship to the world has shifted drastically as we, not nature, essentially hold the power to decide what animals will live on and what animals will die out.
The Immortal Jellyfish Girl looks into a future where much of what we hold dear is lost, and questions our place in this world. It wrestles with extinction and survival, with greed and sacrifice, with loneliness and love. In a way, it puts the burden of the future, and the survival of the Animal Kingdom, on us, here—now, by putting it on the shoulders of the one person in the show who is from the present: The Fantastic Mr. Fox (the real one), a man who wears a fox mask, who is the leader of an organization called Animal R.I.O.T. who is a time traveler, a prophet, and a fool. Bumbling through the show as the narrator, he travels through time making mistakes and trying to fix them as the story spins to its conclusion. He does not really understand his power. He did not ask for the responsibility. Yet there he is, determining the future of the world.
What if you could see how your actions affect the future? Would that make you a prophet? A time traveler? Would you need to see a future calamity in order to change your behavior and take decisive action in the present? These are the questions at the heart of The Immortal Jellyfish Girl. In the show, we combine traditional art and storytelling forms with modern practices and technologies. Allowing the past, the future, and the present a space in which to meet, the meta-theatricality of The Immortal Jellyfish Girl draws attention both to our power as human beings, and to the clumsy and often unintentional outcomes of wielding that power. As we blur the lines between past, present and future in this show, we call attention to our own seemingly small individual actions which can be profoundly influential in the circle of life.
ABOUT WAKKA WAKKA:
Wakka Wakka Productions, Inc. is an award-winning non-profit visual theater company based in NYC and Oslo. Our mission is to push the boundaries of the imagination by creating works that are bold, unique and unpredictable.
Since 2001 Wakka Wakka has created and produced eleven original works of theaterwhich have toured extensively throughout the US and abroad. All of Wakka Wakka’s productions have been highly physical, overlapping in a wide range of styles, including grotesque, absurd and clown, incorporating elements such as object manipulation, puppetry, masks and original music.
Wakka Wakka created its first original work, B9: Clinch Mountain Lookout, at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. B9 is centered on a seemingly perfect couple whose blissful relationship disintegrates into horror. In 2002/3, Wakka Wakka created Fattie and Skinny Show!, a modern clown piece that ran Off-Off Broadway.
In 2004 the company premiered its first puppet piece, The Untold Story of Monkey, at NYC’s The Tank. The play follows a young monkey from his jungle home to his untimely death in outer space. In 2006, The Death of Little Ibsen – a darkly comedic puppet exploration of Henrik Ibsen’s quest to find his true self – ran Off-Off Broadway and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick.
In 2008 Wakka Wakka created FABRIK: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz, which ran Off-Off Broadway. About the life of the real Moritz Rabinowitz – an outspoken Polish-Jewish émigré whom the Nazi’s mistakenly dubbed “the leader of the Jewish Resistance in Norway,” FABRIK was awarded a 2008 UNIMA Citation of Excellence and was nominated for a Drama Desk award. In 2010, Wakka Wakka premiered Baby Universe: A Puppet Odyssey Off Broadway at Baruch Performing Arts Center. The bizarre tale of humankind’s last hope in the face of imminent annihilation wrought by an angry, dying sun, Baby Universe was critically acclaimed and was nominated for 3 Drama Desk awards.
In 2011, Wakka Wakka was awarded an Obie Grant for Outstanding Work.
Wakka Wakka premiered SAGA Off Broadway in the spring of 2013. SAGA examines the 2008 Icelandic financial crisis through the very personal story of Gunnar Oddmunson. Lucky and successful before the crash, Gunnar’s big dreams for the future give way to the harsh reality of family abandonment and bank repossession, which in turn awaken his ancient Norse desire for blood revenge. SAGA was the recipient of a 2013 Special Drama Desk Award for Sophisticated Puppet Theater.
In the winter of 2017, Wakka Wakka presented MADE IN CHINA Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters in NYC. Wakka’s third NY Times Critic’s Pick, the show is a darkly comedic puppet musical inspired by true events. MADE IN CHINA is a fantastical exploration of human rights, consumerism and American-Chinese relations as told through the unlikely love story between a middle-aged, Midwestern American hoarder and her neighbor, a widower ex-pat from China.
Wakka Wakka’s latest Off-Broadway run was again at 59e59 in the winter of 2023. The Immortal Jellyfish Girl is the second installation in Wakka Wakka’s ANIMALIA trilogy. The first piece, Animal Riot – a guerilla-style, eco-manifesto performance – has been seen at international festivals in Europe, at the Andrew Edlin gallery in NYC, and throughout the US and Norway.
Wakka Wakka is premierining the the third and final installment of the trilogy, Dead as a Dodo, at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival in January 2024.
NORDLAND VISUAL THEATRE:
Nordland Visual Theatre, based north of the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway, offers residencies and co-production to artists and theater companies. The theater plays a key role in developing and promoting visual theater in Norway. Nordland Visual Theatre’s co-productions range from traditional puppet theater to cross-over works merging elements from the visual arts, theater, mime, dance and multi-media. Productions are collaborations with theater companies, puppeteers, actors, directors, stage designers, composers and artists from all over the world.