GEF: An Exploration of Friendship and Hyding with Puppets
Another collaboration with Brittany Welch! What the people have been waiting for!
GEF: An Exploration... with Puppets is quite the journey. Exploring eclectic history through an impactful, interpretive lens, we follow Voirrey Irving as she gets older - and tries to understand why Gef, a vulgar mongoose, won't let her do anything alone. Truly the piece is one of self discovery, of what compartmentalization can do, and how we're created to exist fully as people - not just as smaller, more palatable versions of ourself.
There's a lot of transformative action packed into this piece, making it a compelling, thrilling ride the whole way through. We start with a 13-year-old sweet, innocent Voirrey and a tiny Gef - and work our way 6 years down the road, with four total puppets along the way.
The convention of puppetry works absolute wonders for this piece - having your voice embody something outside of you, and the tension of two characters taking up the physical space of one body in the space. Brittany and I played with the "growth" of Gef throughout the piece, changing found object puppets so that he became more invasive, large, and ugly, until he's embodied by a trenchcoat at the end, seemingly swallowing Voirrey up whole.
The Jekyll and Hyde-like dynamic of the two is complex. When we meet these two characters, Voirrey is awkward, sweet, and innocent, while Gef is loud and abrasive. However, Gef is not Voirrey's foil - rather, he's a completion of her, put into another being because of what has been deemed "unladylike" and "unpalatable". It wouldn't be proper for a girl to say these things; but it also wouldn't be possible for a girl to meet all the important people she's met without a reason for them to talk to her.
Between the two, there lay a single topic of tension: a photo that visiting spiritualist Mr Price gives Voirrey that he took of just her. In a way, this photo acts as a third character in the piece - representing the dreams that Voirrey has beyond Gef, and what she truly wants for herself - "to feeling a feeling, even after it's been felt"- and be able to share it, without question of whether or not she's allowed to feel that way.
The piece explores messy topics like puberty, insecurity, worthiness - and the added confusion of how to handle invasive, new thoughts while to try to separate oneself from the messiness of them all because of cultural expectations, particularly put on young women. How do we see something as "other" and reconcile it as "self"? A coming of age tale with a dark, comedic twist, GEF: An Exploration... with Puppets is a reminder to recognize the fullest version of yourself, feel all that comes with that - and be willing to share it, too.