Princess T Hits North America

Natalie Vilkoff

Before I saw this play, I was told that it would have a scary-ish theme, but after I saw it, I found that the majority of the play was very enthralling and exciting, and not quite as scary as I first thought it would be.

The main idea of the play was based around a princess (Princess Turandot) who doesn’t want to be married, and so she has all her suitors executed after they fail to answer her 3 riddles. But one day, a mysterious water carrier arrives at the palace and answers all of her 3 riddles and declares his love for the princess (to the great dismay of her servant girl, Adelma,who knows the water bearer’s secret). The princess decides to subvert the protocol that states that the princess has the chance to answer one riddle presented by the suitor if he has answered all of hers, because no one has ever answered all of her riddles before. And so the water carrier is imprisoned while the princess attempts to guess his name (which his wife, Adelma, later proclaims in an argument). The following day (with much hesitation) Turandot decides to marry Calaf, who is not a water carrier but revealed to be the prince of Tartar land and we realize that Turandot has played right into the plans of her father and Calaf, who has come to reclaim his native land.

The play has a clear Asian infused theme, yet the furniture and set are simplified and modernized. The set consists of a large screen (used for shadows) of 2 large wooden platforms (that are used for a variety of places such as the princess’s room and a prison cell). These platforms are always being moved to construct different scenes (as previously mentioned). I don’t think that the furniture affected the actors movements too much because the actors would just step onto it (the furniture) of just walk around it (all of which was planned). I think that the actors did a good job of adapting to the different stage configurations and looked comfortable in their environment.

The most pronounced characters are the emperor, his daughter, who is Princess T, the water carrier (who later turns out to be Calaf, the Tartar land prince), and Barach, an old teacher and friend to Calaf.  These characters are the most developed because the story evolves around them. All of these characters have major roles, yet the play wouldn’t have been complete without the more minor characters to (such as the palace guards, the servant girls, and Skerena, Barach’s wife).

The best “detail” of this play was the programme. I really liked the idea that the police have canceled the play, but that the play will still continue in secret. I think that this is a very unique and unusual idea, but I really liked it anyway. I think that this was a very good play and advise others to see it.

__________________________________________________

Princess T a critique of critique of government or a fairytale?- Review

By: Alexandra Milman (age 12)

      Although the title Princess T made me think of a magical fairy tale, I must admit I was undoubtedly wrong.

Princess T is more than a fairytale: it’s a critique of government and media manipulation of popular opinion. Princess T is about a selfish princess who is scared of happiness and is facing the fact that she must marry to uphold the Chinese empire. But when a Tartar commoner wins her riddle game at court and is to be her husband unless she is able to guess his real name by dawn, she becomes determined to put an end to the marriage. Full of twists and turns, the audience is kept wondering if she will marry the Tartar commoner and if she does will she do so willingly or will she regret it all.

Director Hélène Ducharme does a good job recreating this piece; it was cool how she also used some shadow scenes (scenes when you see the shadows of people behind screens re-enacting the story). It was clear that she paid special attention to stage set up and costuming. For example the chorus of clowns all had slightly different costumes of black and white; Adelma had a pink dress with a thin layer of green silk; the Tar tar water carrier was dressed in simple rags; while Princess T and the emperor Altoum had very detailed Chinese robes. The stage changed a little during the play as things were moved around for different scenes. The biggest eye catchers were the two white draperies hanging at the sides with one larger one at the back. These drapes were used to create the shadow scenes.

I found it quite interesting that the director chose the main character (Princess T) to be played by a puppet while the other characters were played by full size people. It was interesting because in most plays I’ve seen that involve casts with half puppets and half people, the main character is usually a person while the other characters are puppets. I believe this piece was intended for an audience of ages 13 and up as it had mature talk and younger children might not have been able to fully understand what was happening.

Individually, the actors played very well for the most part. I liked how each character had a different voice, for example Adelma (played by Meaghan Flaherty) was very strong and quite loyal, while Skerena (played by Andea Conell) had good intentions but she was always worried and it wasn’t always clear as to what she was doing. Most of her worries were centered around her imprisoned husband Barach whom she goes to great lengths to save. It was clear that the emperor Altoum (played by Paul J. Piekoszewski) had a weakness which was his daughter Turandot (Danielle Savoie), who obviously knew that and uses it against him to get her way. For example, she puts a dagger at her stomach threatening to kill herself unless she got what she wanted.

However, I thought Skerena could have seemed more desperate when she was trying to discover the name of the Tartar commoner in order to save her husband and even Adelma could have seemed more surprised and angry when the anonymous Tartar  water carrier (who is later revealed to be Calaf, Adelma’s old husband) tells her he came back not for her but for Princess T. Minor details like that, while not taking away from the overall performance, could have definitely enhanced the piece.

Over all this play was well thought out, but I found the end a bit unclear and confusing because when the emperor and Calaf (played by Aaron Williams)reveal their scheme before the royal wedding I was never actually sure who the real mastermind was. So I think that is what the director and actors could work on but other than that this play really captured my attention.

So, if you are someone who likes plays that blend fantasy and fiction princess T is not to be missed.

____________________________________________

China in Canada

by: Aliza Itskovich (age 14)

Turandot, future empress of China, determined and confident heir to the throne. Who knew there were so many interesting problems in Ancient China?

Princess T needs to marry someone in order to inherit the throne. A nameless water carrier comes to the palace to ask for Princess T’s hand in marriage. When he answers all 3 of Turandot’s riddles, to the shock and dismay of the princess he gets to ask a question in return. He asks the Princess to say his name, which no one knows, and she has until dawn. If she guesses his name correctly, he would be executed, but if she is incorrect, they would be married. Throughout the night, much conflict occurs, revealing the great and terrible lengths Turandot will go to escape the confines of marriage.

There are lots of characters and they all seem to be connected, director Hélène Ducharme and assistant director Ms Ekaterina Vetrova do a great job staging the play. Just by using white sheets hanging from the ceiling and minimal set pieces, the actors easily show us what the palace looked like. The nameless water carrier, played by Aaron Williams, was put in a cell which was made up of silver poles standing in a piece of wood. The use of the white sheet in this case was hanging it over the bars in front of the water carrier to show that he wasn’t the main focus and then removing the white sheet from the bars to show that the scene has changed. Another creative aspect that the sheets were used for was as a screen to project shadows on. There was one scene where you could only see the shadows of the actors as if seeing them from outside the room or cell.

Princess T was represented by a puppet. The director decided to use a puppet instead of an actress to symbolize that even though it may seem that Turandot was manipulating those around her, it was her father the emperor, in fact, who had control over her every move. Turandot was operated by Danielle Savoie, who did a good job at manipulating the puppet. She never took her eyes of the puppet which helped to put focus on the puppet and not the actor’s face. The emotions that Turandot expressed came across to the audience very clearly even though the puppet’s facial expression stayed the same. The actress used precise puppet movement and her voice very well to convey emotions. The result of many rehearsals.

To conclude, all I had to do was sit and relax while the actors brought ancient China to the audience. It was a very enjoyable performance.

________________________________________________

Princess T: Review

By Misha Tsirlin (age 12)

…a giant battle between the Chinese and the Tartars, between the emperor of China and his daughter, and between Princess Turandot and her love.

Princess T was an adventure. I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire play.

Princess T wasn’t just a play. It was everything around the play as well, put together with extreme creativity. It was everything from before the audience started walking in to after the play

When the play was first written and put together by Czechoslovakian performers, it was censored by the government, so it had to be shown secretly without the government knowing. In this particular performance, the performers acted onstage as Chinese royalty and their enemies, Tartars, but offstage, they were the Czechoslovakian performers, a hair strand away from being discovered by the government. When I first came to see Princess T, the doors were locked, and we were let in from a small back door. The back door led into a small room. The audience was then led through a series of halls and was forbidden to talk loudly, only to create the atmosphere of struggling Czechoslovakian performers from beginning to end. It is a play of love, hate, betrayal, and one hidden important decision for everybody that lies among the play. Full of creativity, director Hélène Ducharme and assistant director Ekaterina Vetrova do a great job of combining shadows, creative ideas and a puppet to stage this fairy tale:

Princess Turandot, hated by all of China, has to marry before her father’s reign over China comes to an end. The princess and the other royalty are in court when a poor water-carrier shows up, claiming that his love for the princess. Princess Turandot will only marry a suitor if he can guess correctly each of her her three riddles. Then, the water-carrier guesses the riddles, and turns the tables on Princess T. The princess now must guess the visitor’s real name before dawn. The water-carrier is held imprisoned inside the palace for the rest of the day and night, and it is there he meets his wife, Adelma. Adelma, we have learned, is a Tartar princess, held hostage by the emperor’s regime and the water-carrier, named Calaf, was the heir to the Tartar throne.

Perfect look, perfect thoughts, perfect lifestyle: A puppet isn’t made based on a typical human being, a puppet is based on perfectness. However, even though it is the puppet representing Turandot, operator Danielle Savoie is much taller than the puppet itself and she would have to be given an appearance less vivid than the puppet’s. In this case, however, the bright pale makeup on Danielle Savoie’s face and the ornaments on the dress have failed to make the puppet more noticeable than the actor operating the puppet. On the other hand, the makeup on the other actor’s faces would determine who they are and what kind of personality they would have. For example as soon as you walked in, the clown-chorus gave you a humorous expression as soon as you saw them.  The white mask around their eyes, the red makeup around the mask and the emphasized eyebrows gave it away.

The performers in this play acted the play… Oh wait, did I say acted? Nobody in this play was acting; they were all living inside this tale. Although some performances weren’t as convincing as others, such as the emperor Altoum, played Paul J. Piekoszewski, hadn’t convinced me during the entire play that his end is near.

Behind what would’ve been curtains, we can see performers preparing for the next scene and living inside their environment, even if they weren’t on stage. This is effective because at least 80% of the time, an average audience member doesn’t look at the one who speaks, but they watch behind the curtains and at the secondary performers.

The stage design was kept minimal to highlight the incredible shadow work done throughout the play. A good chunk of the Princess T  was performed on one main screen for shadows in the back, and several smaller screens in front . Sometimes the smaller screens were covering metal bars to represent different settings. Performers would be standing in behind the bars, like Barach and the poor water-carrier when they were imprisoned in the palace, making the bars represent a prison.

It is a play you will certainly remember for its ability to generate so many hidden feelings.

If you are ready to be taken, on an emotional roller coaster while also devouring a visual feast onstage, then this is a play for you.

Huge respect to the performers, directors, and everybody who took part in this adventure.

____________________________________________________

Princess T: Review

By Angelina Bayindir (age 14)

When I first heard the title of this play, I thought that it would end with the traditional, “and they lived happily ever after”, but the performance itself surprised me because there were complex relationships that might end hopelessly or even tragically. The piece isn’t so simple because in this particular  play the hatred, the lies and the cruelty of the  princess shows us that a person in power can do anything to get what he or she wants. Trust and hope are things you can’t count on in this cold world.

The story, at times, may strike you as cruel, merciless and eerie but the clowns (played by Alex Beraldin, Ian Huffam, Troy Arsenian, Samuel Dietrich and Amelia Galizia ) always surprised me with their  energy and motivation to tell the story! When I watch a play, I always associate myself to one of the characters and this time I feel like I associate most with Alex Beraldin. She really made me laugh and I loved the way she embraced her character. The way she walked and the way she talked (loud and fearless) amazed me!

Furthermore, I was always focusing on the parts where the puppet Turandot was manipulated by the performer Danielle Savoie. She did a great job because I felt as if the puppet was alive. She added a touch of fieriness when her dad, the emperor Altoum, played by Paul J. Piekoszewski, comes to talk with her about the fact that it is her duty as princess to get married. She acts like a spoiled teenager and makes the audience laugh. The duality of her nature, however, is reflected when she acts cruelly towards her servants (one of them being Adelma, played by Meaghan Flaherty, the former Tartar princess and the other one was the commoner Zelima, played by Alexandra Isenor). In the end there is one question you need to solve: Was Princess T manipulated or is SHE doing the manipulating? All her actions and decisions are clear on stage and only they will answer the question.

I was most impressed by Aidan Parchelo. He played Barach and he embodied every aspect of an elderly Tartar man. The way he moved and the way he talked exemplified the spark of intelligence and the experience of many years in his eyes. His former student, the water carrier Calaf (played by Aaron Williams) was an ordinary guy who looked simple and shy. He felt so sincere in his intentions that I was nothing short of horrified when his true intentions are revealed at the end of the play.

I was happy to see that in the play, they used shadows to narrate certain things. I love shadow work and admire the way they did it because it is difficult to move the light in the right position to make the shadows prevalent. I admire the simple decorations that gave the feeling of an ancient society.

I highly recommend this play because it journeys into a classical time period and you can almost picture yourself living the hard life of different characters. I also loved the fact that the play was based on a story from a different country.

_____________________________________

Princess T: Send in the Clowns

Mark Ositashvili (age 10)

          Upon reading the program I was immediately lost, but, after only a few minutes I knew it was to be an amazing play .

Princess T is a play about a strict princess living in uneasy times. The main plot takes place in a palace in ancient China where  Princess T is threatening to ruin her father’s dynasty by refusing to marry. She expects to have everything, though once she does, it’s not for long .

The main stars of this show are Danielle Savoie who played Turnadot (Princess T) , Aaron Williams playing Calaf  and the director Hélène Ducharme. The stage in my mind was made by a true artistic and creative designer: they used metal bars in almost all of the scenes which gave it a bit of a oppressive theme and also the scenes used draperies on which shadow puppets depicted some of the story lines. With a projected light behind drapes they were able to produce shapes, colours and even people.

My favourite actors by a long shot was the chorus clowns. All thanks to Alexandra Beraldin , Ian Huffam , Troy Arsenian , Samuel Dietrich and Amelia Galizia, you were often gasping for breath.  These five actors could make up T.V. program alone .

If you like crazy princesses or rude clowns then come check this show out because it is funny and dramatic all at the same time.