Puppets

Bacchant Rod Puppet

I’ll make no war on gods.

–Euripides, The Bacchae

Euripides’ play The Bacchae retells the ancient Greek myth of what can happen when we make war on the gods.  Pentheus, young king of Thebes, seeks to destroy the cult of the Bacchae, women who dance and cavort in the forest above the city in honor of the god Dionysus.  Pentheus’ name means “grief.”  It is a fitting name for his fate.  He is ultimately tricked by the god into spying on the women, where he is torn to pieces by his own mother, blinded by her ecstasy into thinking he is a lion.

The play’s chorus (the Bacchae) represents the voice of reason and obedience to the god Dionysus who, ironically, is a god of un-reason, of wine and passion and reverie.  Members of the chorus are bacchants, celebrants of Dionysus.  They dress outlandishly and sing wild hymns to the god, but their words are also warnings to those who would deny him.

I have dressed this bacchant puppet in tree branches, cow hides, and a blindfold.  Blindness runs throughout the play.  Pentheus cannot see that the man before him is in fact the god himself.  “You cannot see him because you lack reverence,” Dionysus says plainly.  The bacchant’s  blindfold reads “little prayers for little lips,” a warning meant to remind the young king of his place.  It is too late.  He has gone too far.

Baba Yaga Hand Puppet

 

In Russian fairy tales, Baga Yaga is a witch who lives in the middle of a forest in a house on chicken legs.  She’s known as an evil witch, but like all evil witches, sometimes the damage she causes is actually a blessing in disguise.  She is very wise, but she is also very vain. Every time you ask her a question she grows a year older.  She’s been asked so many questions that she will no longer show her face.  You don’t want to know what she looks like under her mask.  And whatever you do, don’t ask her a question.