The team at Portland’s Imago Theatre has been working on a new take on a classic tale.
In December 2016, directors Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad launched their new production: “La Belle” with the added twist of the characters – and the audience — getting “Lost in the World of the Automaton.”
It wasn’t easy.
The concept was built around dozens of costumes, props, and, most especially, an elaborate mechanical automaton that interacts with the characters on stage. The show went through three years of writing, building and rehearsing before its premiere to get all one hundred moving parts working in concert.
Imago is known for its iconic shows like “Frogz” and “ZooZoo”; masked theater productions that tell the personal and comic stories of frogs, penguins and worms. These shows have been running for decades to packed houses around the world.
But after 30 years Triffle and Mouawad were ready for a new challenge.
“’La Belle’ is just kind of everything you can think of in theater,” Triffle explains. “There’s singing, dancing, puppets. There’s masked theater. There’s shadow theater. It’s just like so much stuff that’s in one thing and then there’s a little more.”
And that “more” seems to be a very human element that made this staged fairy tale with many moving parts come to life.
“The technology used in ‘La Belle’ is really the hands, “ says Jerry Mouawad. “Everything that we created and everything that’s being performed is done with hands.”