Linda Leon and Nicole Bauberger created “Found in a Blizzard,” with cello accompaniment by Cai Krikorian.
Leon said, “What I find most exciting about ‘Found in a Blizzard’ is the opportunity to collaborate with Nicole and Cai on what I believe is a quintessential Yukon story—numerous, occasionally deranged characters trying to find meaning or friendship or themselves in our winter landscape. The fact that the three of us come from such different angles is what will make this a terrific show!”
Krikorian was drawn to the balance of darkness and playfulness in the project. They are motivated by the very idea of doing a puppet show in the [email protected] window, and by the performance’s accessibility to the Whitehorse community.
Leon and Bauberger, both members of the Yukon Artists @ Work Society, envisioned the show inspired by the collective’s use of the gallery’s front windows to host mini artist-residencies, the “Artist in the Window.” This strategy emerged as the group’s response to initial Covid measures and has been embraced by the group of mutually-supporting artists, as part of their ongoing practices.
In last year’s heavy snowfall, Bauberger and Leon dug out a little snow fort in which passersby could shelter to watch the artist in the window from outside, which added to their excitement about the possibilities of performance there. The two of them looked at the window and saw a stage. They originally planned to build an audience area outside the window that would seat five people at a time, with the production’s sound crossing the glass by means of Bluetooth speakers.
As they worked out these technical challenges, they realized that if they turned the puppet show around, they could seat a slightly larger audience and not have to worry about amplification at all. So the performances will take place in the gallery’s front room, with passersby able to peek backstage from the street.
Leon and Bauberger both have practices that include theatre as well as visual art. Leon has designed many productions over her 35-year career in the business, including many works for children’s theatre that often involved puppets. Bauberger’s theatre background leans towards storytelling and performance, though she has also taken design roles and, most recently, has instigated Monster Parades in locations from Peterborough, Ontario, to Mayo.
This past summer at one of the Yukon Women in Music Cookshack Sessions, Krikorian played their cello pieces for Bauberger, suggesting that perhaps they could work together on a storytelling project. Bauberger was delighted when Krikorian agreed to lend the sound of their cello to their production.
Of their cello practice, Krikorian writes: “I moved around a lot as a child and youth. Since I was a teen, I have used my cello to compose pieces that reflected where I was. I draw inspiration from both the geography and the people and stories of various phases of my life. I have learned to use the cello to create melodies and tones that are a soothing blanket for myself.”
As Krikorian got to know the characters in “Found in a Blizzard,” they learned to make melodies that complement the feeling they express and the overall story. They draw their melodies from traditional fiddle tunes, modified-cello student exercises, and from their own compositions, repurposed for this project. They really like the texture of Melodic A minor scales.
Leon said she has “been lost in metaphorical and emotional blizzards” during her life. “Humour is a great healer. And what a joy to work on something from the story creation angle!”
Coming up in the new year, Leon will exhibit paintings for Celestial Bodies at [email protected], with Sandra Storey, opening January 13. She will also be involved as a designer in the creative workshop of a new script by Linda Carson, for Presentation House Theatre.
“Found in a Blizzard” tells the story of Pip losing their aunt’s cat Emerson in a cookie-baking mishap and seeking her out in a snowstorm. Along the way they meet a variety of characters created in cardboard and other found materials.
The show will run no more than 15 minutes, every hour at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. on December 15–17. The audience is invited to sip cider and to browse the gallery, after each show, but must clear out for the performers to reset at 10 minutes before the next performance.
Tickets are free but must be registered on Eventbrite: www.eventbrite.ca/e/found-in-a-blizzard-window-puppet-show-tickets-476636060287.
Donations are welcome at the gallery. Bring the kids!