Touchstone Theatre opens its 2018-19 season on October 5 & 6 with Ukrainian guest artists Teatr-Pralnia with their rambunctious and audacious puppet cabaret, TseSho? (What's That?).
The show features five performers in childlike overalls who shout, sing, recite, scramble, and play- often with five identically dressed doll-puppets. Rhythmic speech- spoken in a mix of Ukrainian, Russian, and English- drives the performance, connecting musical numbers to passages from poetic texts, folk songs to Facebook posts. Throughout, the performers of Teatr-Pralnia peer through the lens of their childlike characters to ask honest, urgent questions about a chaotic world that they're trying to understand. How do we form an identity in a world of buzzing (mis)information and deceptive surfaces? How do we come to terms with our place in the world and in history? What's That?
Director Vlad Troitsky emphasizes the borderless importance of TseSho? (What's That?)'s main idea. "The questions we're asking are challenging people in all sorts of countries, people everywhere. Children are free in many ways, and a free creature isn't afraid to live honestly. We want people to feel that, and see how it interacts with their own sense of self and identity. When the audience understands that, we'll feel like we've done what we set out to do."
"From the moment I first saw footage of Pralnia I knew I wanted to have them in the season," says Touchstone Artistic Director Jp Jordan. "They had me at 'puppet cabaret.' What better way than puppets and music to try and make sense of the world?"
Teatr-Pralnia joins four other ensembles from Egypt and Ukraine that will make independent tours of the U.S. from July-December in 2018 as part of Center Stage, a cultural exchange program that invites performing artists from abroad to the United States to perform, meet, and share their experiences with communities around the country. TseSho? (What's That?) continues its tour in October with performances at the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, The Kennedy Center, and Boom Arts in Portland, Oregon.
Touchstone's season is supported locally by season sponsor RCN. WDIY provides media sponsorship and Working Dog Press provides print sponsorship. The presentation of Teatr-Pralnia with CCA Dakh is part of Center Stage, a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc.
TseSho (What's That?) plays October 5 & 6, 2018 at 8pm. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students and seniors; group rates available on request. Advance tickets may be purchased at 610.867.1689 or online at www.touchstone.org
Founded in 1981, Touchstone Theatre produces and presents both original and re-imagined classic productions, with a dedication to the renewal of theatre as a vital art form. Touchstone works to foster collaboration on a local and national level through educational and youth empowerment programs, using theatre as a community-building tool. Visit us on the web at www.touchstone.org