In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre performed today, January 10, on the Paramount stage for the very first time to a rapt audience of 453 middle and high school students from throughout Central Minnesota. The Story of Crow Boy shared the life of artist/author Taro Yashima who lived during WWII as both a Japanese and American citizen. His gentle spirit knew love, pain, imprisonment, torture, adventure, separation, prejudice all before writing his children’s book about bullying. But it was a book he could never have written were it not for his complex life experiences. The play captures his life’s journey along with his books with power, grace, surprise, humor, creativity and passion. The stage setting, puppetry, lighting, projection, powerful acting, incredible singing and intriguing music wove the play into an unforgettable experience.
After the play, 100 art students, twenty each from Foley, Sauk Rapids, Becker, Tech and Apollo, worked with Sandra Spieler, HOB Artistic Director and Masanari Kawahara, lead actor, to explore puppetry and create mini-plays that capture the trials experienced when we judge and are judged.
This internationally acclaimed company produces original plays and tour productions, creates specially commissioned pageants throughout Minnesota and beyond, and teaches puppetry and pageantry through residencies and workshops to youth, students and teachers, and communities. Today’s performance of The Story of Crow Boy was made possible with grants from both the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Central Minnesota Arts Board because the voters of Minnesota approved a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
The company arrived on Tuesday and spent an entire day setting the stage. Artistic Director Sandra Spieler shared the company’s past work with other communities, especially around the valuable resource of water. The Paramount hopes to explore other options with In the Heart of the Beast to provide our community with access to this amazing resource.