In North Barn Theatre’s new puppet show, A Gorgon’s Tale, a mythical being brings new growth and change to a world in ruin. Inspired by the work of Donna Haraway and featuring original music by Behrooz Mihankhah, this outdoor theatrical experience will appeal to the senses of all ages.
The puppet culture in North America is mostly pegged as theatre for young audiences, with this show we hope to bring nuance to that perspective. – Laura Stinson
In this Q&A with A Gorgon’s Tale’s co-creator Laura Stinson, we find out more.
A Gorgon’s Tale plays at Cambridge Battery in Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park (September 5, 6 & 8) as part of the 2022 Halifax Fringe Festival. Visit boldtypetickets.com for tickets and more information.
This interview has been edited.
Tell us about A Gorgon’s Tale. What can audiences expect?
A Gorgon’s Tale is a new puppet spectacle by North Barn Theatre that tells the story of a mythical being who brings growth and change to a world in ruin. Told through the tentacles of a misunderstood Gorgon, this journey sheds light on the anti-hero and brings hope to the prophecies that cast shadows across our future.
The show features a variety of puppet critters, amongst others: a talking mouse, a two-dimensional king, a guiding butterfly and a sneaky pigeon. This performance has almost no dialogue. In the absence of spoken word, the story is told through imagery and sound. For this tour, puppeteers Ian McFarlane and Laura Stinson are joined by award-winning jazz pianist Behrooz Mihankhah, who carries the narrative with an original live score.
The show was designed to be performed in an outdoor setting. Therefore, we will perform at the Cambridge Battery in Point Pleasant Park for the Halifax version of the show.
Although this puppet show was not specifically designed for children, the sounds and images appeal to the senses of all ages. It runs for approximately 45 minutes.
What was the inspiration for A Gorgon’s Tale?
The show draws on the myth of Perseus and Medusa, but it flips and scrambles the telling in a celebration of the antihero. The show’s creators, Ian McFarlane and Laura Stinson, were intrigued by the prospect of shifting the narrative of the myth of Medusa after learning that Hesiod’s Theogony had borrowed and vilified Gorgons from more ancient myths. The themes of interspecies friendships and life thriving in our current moment were inspired by Donna Haraway’s book, Staying with the Trouble.
Why this particular show now?
We believe that the stories we tell shape our perspectives and relationships. In Hesiod’s Theogony, we hear the story of a multi-species monster who turns things to stone. At this moment, we chose to celebrate instead the mythical creature that predates Hesiod and tell a different tale. As Donna Haraway says in Staying with the Trouble, “it matters what thoughts think thoughts.” If we are going to address issues of climate change, ongoing colonialism and racism, we need to question the narratives we are given.
What do you hope audiences leave A Gorgon’s Tale talking about?
We hope to leave audiences with images of change and growth within the frame we now inhabit and that they will feel a transformation of the space around them. Perhaps they will start reimagining their own mythologies and histories and hearing the unspoken antihero perspectives.
The puppet culture in North America is mostly pegged as theatre for young audiences. With this show, we hope to bring nuance to that perspective.
We hope that people leave the show talking about puppets and music.
Why should someone come to see A Gorgon’s Tale?
This is an original piece by an emerging theatre company based in rural Nova Scotia. The people who made this show are professional puppet builders, international touring performers and an award-winning musician.
This production has been in the works since January 2022, and all of our work has paid off with beautiful images, a compelling story and a mesmerizing live score.
We are touring this piece around Nova Scotia but only have three performances in Halifax. We are not based in Halifax, so this might be your only chance to see the show where you live.
A Gorgon’s Tale runs at the Cambridge Battery in Point Pleasant Park as part of the 2022 Halifax Fringe Festival. Visit boldtypetickets.com for tickets, dates and times.
The Halifax Fringe Festival returns to live in-person performances from September 1 through September 11, with more than 55 productions taking place at venues across the downtown and North End neighbourhoods.