FESTA’s Canterbury Tales: Better living through puppetry

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey ChaucerOf weeping and wailing, care and other sorrow

I know enough, at eventide and morrow.
The Merchant, The Canterbury Tales

In a figurative sense, shoulders play an important role in our lives, with most of us at one point or another providing a shoulder on which to cry, or to lean. In more than one instance I have shouldered the blame and the burden, not to mention given out my fair share of cold shoulders and, on rare occasions, I have been known to put my shoulder to the grind.

It is only recently that I have taken on the role of a literal shoulder, which I will be doing this Labour Weekend as part of FESTA, the Festival of Transitional Architecture, which runs from 25th-28th October. FESTA is entering into its second year of making life in earthquake-damaged Christchurch exciting and vibrant by showcasing a wide variety of creative projects, with last year’s launch attracting 30,000 people back into the heart of a broken city still finding its bearings.

2012’s LUXCITY wowed residents and visitors alike with its wondrous light installations, and the centrepiece for 2013 also looks set to set many jaws agape in amazement. In an appropriately-appropriated re-telling of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, an epicly-sized representation of The Merchant, who will be controlled by nine puppeteers, flanked by a handful of less-epic-but-still-very-impressive friars, will lead an eye-popping procession through the city, beginning at the Bridge of Remembrance and finishing in the Square. And yours truly will be playing the role of The Merchant’s right shoulder, lest you thought my introduction was mere padding.

The details are far too delicious to divulge, but in my rehearsal with the Free Theatre team I have been getting to grips with the fine art of replicating lust, resignation, and frustration via the medium of a bamboo pole attached to a billowy shoulder, which ranks high in the list of sentences I never imagined I’d type.

Getting FESTA puppets ready Getting FESTA puppets ready Getting FESTA puppets ready

The Canterbury Tales procession will be in full swing on the evenings of Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th October from 8:30pm onwards. We entreat you all to don your best carnival costumes, bring a tambourine or some maracas, and join in the festivities to help us cast off the recent years of weeping, wailing, and other sorrow.

In the meantime, please enjoy the following:

Getting FESTA puppets ready