Play explores feelings with colour
Queen of Colors creates enchanting event with shadow puppets, live painting and video projections
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 06:00 am
Every year the Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival offers some of the finest shows from across the world and each one has its own distinct personality.
The Queen of Colors, a visual storytelling for children over the age of four, is a charming, funny tale of a little girl who dreams big.
Created by Compagnie Les Voisins, this multi-toned fable is loosely based on Jutta Bauer’s much-loved children’s book. The 55-minute play uses shadow puppetry, live music, painting and video projections to create an enchanting event.
In the tale, a pushy, bored character named Little Queen lives in a monochromatic universe until the Court Painter, using audience requests, injects a rainbow of tints into her drab world.
Each colour reveals a different emotional resonance and soon the Little Queen is surrounded with an explosion of vitality and excitement she was unaware existed.
“Jutta said we made a completely different story. She said, ‘It’s not my book, but it is really fun,” said Paul Olbrich, founder of Compagnie Les Voisins.
The German-born Olbrich worked as a wagon-building locksmith before studying puppetry at the Berlin Actors’ School. He founded the freelance puppet theatre company Erfreuliches TheatErfurt in 2004, creating numerous adaptations from children’s books.
Together with Eva Noell, the company has rebranded itself as Compagnie Les Voisins and settled in Brittany.
The theatrical variation of Queen of Colors is built using simple tools – several brushes, paper, a water glass, some colours, a button accordion, a court musician and a painter.
“The queen in the book is grown up. She’s a woman. She’s alone. She’s responsible for giving colour to the world. In our story she’s a child, a bossy child. Mrs. Court Painter and Mr. Court Musician do everything for her and provide her with the comforts she needs. It looks similar, but where Jutta’s story ends, we begin,” Orlich said.
He portrays the Little Queen through shadow puppetry and projections, Noell as the Court Painter and Patrice Langlois as the Court Musician wrap the story into a neat bow.
An important concept of the show is that colours create feelings within people.
“Yellow can be warm, but it can also be too hot. Blue calms you down, but it can also be freezing. When we were in China, the colour red symbolizes joy and luck. We played to huge rooms of children 10, 12, 15 times, and every time when the Court Painter painted the red colour the whole room would go ‘aaahh.’”
Besides visiting China, their puppetry shows have toured Europe, Australia, North America, Taiwan, Korea, Israel and Brazil.
“We like to have fun. There is lots of humour. So have a good breakfast and come down.”
The Queen of Colors runs May 27 to 31 at École Father Jan.