This weekend Fortuna Puppet Theater, based in Bemidji, will present a shadow puppet version of Bram Stoker's Dracula
at In the Heart of the Beast's Avalon Theater. Veering away from HOBT's traditional family-friendly programming, this production promises to be a scary delight for teen and adult audiences, and is just in time for Halloween.
|'The Candy Fairy's Demise' by Fortuna Puppet Theater|
Fortuna Theater Company is an outfit run by Margaret Burger, who got to know the folks at HOBT in 2009 when the puppet theater came to Bemidji for a two-week residency focused on water. Burger ended up being very involved in the project, and decided two years ago to quit her job with the Bemidji public school district and come down to the Twin Cities and do a two-week intensive training session with HOBT's artistic director Sandy Spieler.
Afterwards, Burger dove into puppetry, founding her own company in Bemidji, creating work, receiving a couple of arts and cultural heritage grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and teaching in the community at places such as the Boys and Girls Club.
|Photo by Monika Lawrence|
|In Fortuna Puppet Theater's Studio|
For the most part, Burger has been drawn to shadow puppetry, though in her education work she's also done toy theater and shadow theater. While the intensive program didn't cover shadow puppetry, Burger says she took all the skills she learned there into the art of shadow puppetry, which she's pretty much figured out through her own research.
She started work on her Dracula project last year, when she performed a three-part version of the story. Each part was an hour long, and was presented over the course of three months.
When Spieler asked Burger to present the show at In the Heart of the Beast, she took on the task of squeezing the three-hour show into just one hour. "I essentially re-wrote all of it," she says.
Burger says that one of the reasons she wanted to take on the story of Dracula was because she wanted to deal with something scary. "It's not for kids," she says. The show cautions that it's appropriate for young people age 14 and up.
In Burger's interpretation, the whole piece takes place in one room, which belongs to Renfield, the madman under the control of Dracula who has a propensity to consume insects. Burger's version expands the character's role and includes a cast of fly puppets.
Berger's work is "soulful, but really quirky and super funny," Spieler says. "There's also a lot of heart."
IF YOU GO:
1500 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN