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Montreal's Théâtre de l'Oeil Bring Magical 'Star Keeper' to Keene

KEENE, NH, 9/25/03 - One of the world’s foremost puppet theaters, Théâtre de l’Oeil, travels from its home in Montreal to Keene with its most endearing tale, The Star Keeper. Star Keeper will be performed twice at Keene State College’s Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond. A special school performance will be seen Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 10 a.m., followed by an evening showing at 7 p.m. Both performances, which were made possible through a corporate sponsorship by Markem Corporation, are being held in Brickyard Pond’s Main Theatre. Star Keeper is recommended for ages 3 and up.

Tickets are available through the Brickyard Pond box office, 603-358-2168, or on the web at Prices are $14 and $10 for the general public, $12 and $8 for seniors and KSC faculty and staff and $7 and $5 for youth 17 or younger. Keene State students with ID pay $5. Note that the morning performance is for school groups, and reservations must be made through the box office. Walk-ups are not guaranteed admittance.

Théâtre de l’Oeil has created a play without words that combines visual poetry, music, and fantasy. Using a variety of puppet styles, Star Keeper tells the story of Pretzel, the chivalrous worm who embarks on a wondrous adventure to return a fallen star to the heavens. The story begins with an oft-repeated ritual, as Pierrot brings in the night and lights the stars in the sky. But this time, without noticing, he lets a star fall just as he’s going home to bed. As he passes by, Pretzel finds the star, weeping. He comforts it then tries to put it back in the sky, without immediate success.

But Pretzel persists, and on his quest he encounters many adventures and wondrous creatures. Among those he meets is Mischievous Maggie, who would want the star for herself. Uncle Bob appears to reveal a stage in his belly on which a magical spider dances. In hopes of helping Pretzel on his quest, the Spider weaves a thread to the heavens, and as Pretzel ascends it he encounters a unicyclist, who blocks his way.

Other creatures are Marlene, the sleeping mermaid, a bubble charmer, and an accordion fish, who play ping pong with the star. A pearl fish swallows the star, but suffering from heartburn, spits it up near a seahorse family, who engage in a game of baseball with the star. In the end Pretzel’s mission is accomplished.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about Star Keeper, “Though the word “magic” tends to be over-used, (one) can’t think of a better way to describe this marionette and rod-puppet performance, which will remind you what it’s like to be two.”

Since its inception in Montreal in 1973, Theatre de l’Oeil has been devoted to producing and touring with puppet shows for young audiences. Designed to stimulate the senses and entertain, the productions testify to the company’s innovative sprit and are carried by the conviction that its visual language can touch an audience and make them dream.

Star Keeper won the Chalmers Canadian Play Award: Theatre for Young Audiences in 2001 as well as the Best Production for Young Audiences Award from the Academie Quebecois du theatre in 1999. The same year, company members Richard Morin received the Special Contribution Award for his finely detailed puppets and Richard Lacroix accepted the best Set Design Award. Star Keeper premiered at the French Theater of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on November 25th, 1997 and has been presented over 400 times around the globe.

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