Pescador (Fisherman) – Cinematic and Moving

An old fisherman (puppet) grey, frayed, pulpy, has lived his life married to the sea. The relationship is powerful, symbiotic. Sometimes she gives, sometimes she takes. He grows old and infirm, but never thinks of drawing away. This is his last challenge. A lighthouse beam fans out.

Photo: Nicolás-Calderón

We watch as he gathers extended nets, fed back by a puppeteer in black. (There are five.) The pescador himself stands on the back of a prone human. Others form landscape as we begin. His modest rowboat (weathered, about 3’) moves, at various times, through successive hands of manipulators seated on the floor, pumping forward with their knees; rocked by puppeteers on their backs supporting with feet; shifted by those standing, passed hand to hand… He docks, walking up the back of a person, reconnoiters and embarks, climbing into the boat with physical difficulty.

The Maxfield Parish sky of morphing blues shows night advancing. Waves grow choppy. Water sounds are evocative. Quiet, repetitive music comes and goes. The old man slowly lets out length after length of netting, spread by unseen hands. His boat bobs and reels. He bails as it takes on water. There’s no turning back. This is his livelihood and his life. A gull circles and exits, later returning among a large flock- dozens and dozens of birds flapping in unison.

Photo: Nathaly Arancibia

There are fog horns. A storm comes. He holds his position. Net and then oars pull and tear away. The old man holds on for dear life. Thunder and lightning arrive, but it’s the insistent sounds of the roiled sea that elicit empathy. His boat pitches and plunges, literally tossed from puppeteer to puppeteer. The sight is sustained and so visceral, one might get mal de mer.

Never have I seen members of a puppet company so physically integral to a story, so like dancers. When not handling the boat itself, something done in turn, in multiples, each participant becomes waves -whirling tilting, extending limbs, bending, careening – it’s wonderful to watch.

Photo: Nicolás-Calderón

Lighting, sound design and artisanal elements apparently created by the director are marvelous. A beautiful piece.

We’re invited to examine puppets and scenic design more closely and ask questions after the performance.

Opening Photo: Nicolás-Calderón

Puppetopia (February 27- March 10) 2024 presents
Pescador (Fisherman) by the Silencio Blanco Company
Concept and direction: Santiago Tobar
Creative production: Dominga Gutiérrez
Puppet construction: Santiago Tobar
Performers: Rodolfo Armijo, Camila Pérez, Marco Reyes, Camilo Yáñez, Consuelo Miranda
Sound design: Ricardo Pacheco
Lighting design: Belén Abarza
145 Sixth Avenue

About Alix Cohen (1751 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.