The Firebird

Building the Firebird Puppets

Transposing the Characters of the original Firebird

We have created puppet figures as visual metaphors for the emotional content. So the qualities of inspiration and passion (the original firebird character) are represented by birdlike images. At first these images are created simply with sheets of paper. As the Seeker builds her confidence the birds become clearer, more strongly manifest. They are her birds, her own creative forces. We found form for the energies of doubt and aggression (the original Kastchei) in the increasingly detailed snakes and dog-like creatures. The qualities of innocence and playfulness (the original Princesses) take the form of children.

In designing these puppets I recognised that particular materials had great resonance with specific energies. So the paper became the signature material for the creative forces while sticks and rattan became the material representation of the sharper, harder qualities of the destructive power. The innocent is captured in the translucent vellum, a soft and flexible material which, when dry, forms a beautiful but brittle skin.

As the apparently conflicting forces interact, they begin to take on aspects of the other’s identity, slowly transforming and integrating. The final puppet (the dragon) is a combination of bird and beast: of sticks, paper, and vellum. She is the manifestation of the Creative and Destructive working together while the Innocent rides on her back. Throughout the production the cast create emotional expression for the different energies through the geometries of their bodies and the puppets. Finally, they need to work together to animate the giant puppet of the dragon, their collective energy transferring into the new life.

The Firebird Puppets

The Innocents

Janni sculpting some heads

Janni sculpting the heads of the ‘innocents’

The Birds

Bird puppet

Bird Puppet under construction

The Beast

Head of the Beast Puppet

Head of the Beast Puppet on the workbench, awaiting its jaw mechanism

The Snakes

Zweli lays out puppet templates

Zweli lays out puppet templates

The Dragon

Firebird Dragon

The dragon’s head under construction