HELIOS Theatres stages Woodbeat this weekend in Chennai

A crop of wooden figurines, puppets and improvised woodwind instruments will take centrestage at the Goethe-Institut this weekend

Karan Pillai Published :  27th October 2017 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  27th October 2017 06:00 AM
Michael Lurse and Marko Werner

Michael Lurse and Marko Werner

The stage at Spaces in Besant Nagar, this Saturday, could very well pass for a carpentry workshop — with ample saw dust and wood chips to boot. But that’s until the wooden figurines start moving and the sounds of percussion instruments rent the air. In what promises to be a fascinating evening, a unique performance titled Woodbeat comes to town. Brought down by the Goethe-Institut from Germany and presented by the German theatre group HELIOS Theatre, it’s directed by youth theatre director Barbara Kölling and features acclaimed puppeteer Michael Lurse and percussionist Marko Werner.

Using wood and wooden figurines as primary tools, this extraordinary puppet show is about a concept that was initiated by Barbara and Michael in the year 2008. “We intend to take the audience on a journey of wooden pictures and sound, and find out what surprising new forms wood can manifest into,” says Michael. Woodbeat was originally a part of a research project in Germany called Theatre from the Beginning, which devised plays for children, and has been staged across the world ever since. 


The raw deal
Helios Theatre is known for productions that focus on one single material. In their last tour of the country, they focused on water. “We have also been working with water, clay, earth, paper, wool and, for older children, metal. Each material has a different quality. It is interesting for us to use raw materials, and also ones that have gone through a production process by humans,” says Michael. This time, the tour spans four cities, the others being Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Explaining their decision to choose wood as a material for their production, he says, “Wood has a strong connection to human life, as it surrounds us daily in many forms, be it the forest or furniture or paper. It also enables us to focus more on visual arts than story-telling, the former being an ideal medium of communication for kids.” 

No surprise then that the age-bar for this production is as low as two years old. “Back in 2008, we had researched about kindergarten kids and their ways of communication, while collaborating with Geesche Wartemann, a researcher from University of Hildesheim. So it was an artistic project, and a research project for scientists at the same time,” Michael explains.


On-stage antics
Be it a wooden floor or wood chips or sawdust, the stage promises to be no different than one of a carpentry store. “On stage, we use wood in its many possible ways — there are wood chips, tree discs, crotches, sticks, pieces of branches, bigger and smaller logs, bark, and paper,” Michael says. Along with him, Marko will be creating a musical soundtrack to the performance, with wooden instruments like the djembe and balaphone, apart from other wooden contact sounds, to make up the soundscape for the evening. 

At Spaces. October 28. 3 pm and 6 pm. Details: 28331314