"The Bass Saxophone," the newest production of Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre (CAMT), is based on a brilliant, ironic and compelling short story by Czech born writer, Josef Skvorecky (1924-). The tale is an intricate story of the liberating force of music in war-torn Czechoslovakia.
Horejs' play, "The Bass Saxophone," begins outdoors, where the audience meets with the hapless Danny and his clandestine band of enthusiastic musicians under the Grand Army Plaza arch. All follow the pied piper's call into the arch, and up the spiral staircases. During the climb, the audience passes tableaux scenes on small side platforms depicting the atmosphere of the time. At the transom of the Arch, the Wehrmacht musicians congregate on an ancient canopy bed that transforms for each scene into a puppet proscenium, a hotel ballroom and other story locations. Along the exit staircase, ghosts of the past appear, echoing both the bloodshed and blissful interludes of European history from the Crusades to the Balkan Wars of the post-Soviet era.
Live music includes international swing standards from the period and music written and improvised for the action. Musical director is John Hyde, who appears on keyboard. Colin Stetson appears on Bass Saxophone and other Saxophones.
Characters are portrayed by both puppets and live actors, as the marionettes reveal the story's contradiction between inner dream life and outside harsh realities. The puppets symbolize the state of humanity in wartime - when people are not masters of their own fate, and the furies of war control their every move. Music symbolizes the antidote for that powerless existence. At times, music drives the action and the puppets are choreographed like a dance. At other times, improvised music is layered over the puppets' and puppeteers' actions. Often the musicians follow the action and create incidental music and sound effects reminiscent of a 1940s radio drama. Power struggles arise between puppeteers and puppets, which are resolved by puppeteers taking on puppets' attitudes.
Friday at 8pm
Saturday and Sunday at 3pm & 8pm
No 3pm show on Saturday, October 1st
Theater: Grand Army Plaza Memorial Arch
Address: Flatbush, Eastern Parkway & Prospec
Cost:$15.00, $10.00 Students and Seniors
Buy Tickets Online or Call: SmartTix at 212-868-4444