A headless puppet shall lead them

With break dancing, deejaying and skateboard trickery, Brian Fidler’s newest creation is a hip stew — even if all the feats are performed…

With break dancing, deejaying and skateboard trickery, Brian Fidler’s newest creation is a hip stew — even if all the feats are performed by a headless hand puppet.

The show, Cam and Legs, will premier Thursday night at the Old Fire Hall.

On Tuesday, Fidler was putting the finishing touches on his miniature set in his home studio.

A baby monitor sat on a table in the corner and Fidler’s son Charlie would periodically wake up, wail and then fall back to sleep.

Essentially Cam and Legs is about friendship and betrayal and being careful what you wish for, Fidler explained.

Legs, a headless hand puppet, dreams of appearing on the cover of his favourite periodical, DJ Magazine.

To do so, he goes to an enchanted pawnshop and buys/befriends a not-so-inanimate camera.

The puppetry and sets border on found-object art — consisting of random knickknacks from secondhand stores.

“I’m not even sure where I got the camera from; I just have a lot of crap,” he said.

“I just collect stuff; I think I got this one at a garage sale or something.”

The set is made out of three suitcases, which open up to reveal different scenes.

“I have a theory that you can make a show with just cardboard, hot glue, magnets and hockey tape,” he said.

“There’s a lot of cardboard in this show.”

One suitcase opens to reveal a street scene that rolls by.

There’s also a miniature skateboard park complete with rails and quarter pipe.

It looks like a lot of fun.

It took a lot of self-control not to grab Fidler’s cassette-tape case skateboard and try a few tricks of my own.

Fidler learned the art of puppetry with the Mermaid Theatre group in Nova Scotia.

He honed his craft touring around the Maritimes with the group doing black-light puppetry shows for kids.

“You get in a van and you schlep all your own gear to elementary schools,” he said.

The tour he did with Mermaid in 2003 was a little more upscale.

“We did the Cadillac tour of Japan — where they pack your stuff up for you, take you out for dinner give you wicked per diems.”

The props to be used for Cam and Legs were created during a workshop with the Mermaid crew.

Fidler is now working in a form of hand puppetry — think Thing from the Adams Family dressed in sneakers, a sweater and blue jeans.

Some might recognize the technique from his show Tales from the Prop Shed and a bit in Varietease.

“I don’t see myself as a puppeteer; for me it’s just another form of physical theatre performance,” he said.

“There are people who do this really well and I’m just kind of a hack.”

It’s fascinating to watch the characters come alive in his hands, posing for the camera like the latest hip-hop artist.

Fidler admits that his ignorance of puppetry may be an asset.

“I don’t play by the rules, whatever the rules are; I don’t know if there are rules but I’m just kind of making it up as I do along.

“But I’m sure there’s someone that does full-on shows like this too. I haven’t seen it yet but it’s definitely out there.”

The 35-minute performance utilizes short animations to help explain the story but no dialogue.

There is a soundtrack of all original music by Jordy Walker, Andre Gagne and Jon Gelinas.

To create these tunes, the musicians set up their gear and watched each scene a few times while jamming.

They recorded the third take.

“I would love to have live music, but I really want this to be a touring show,” said Fidler.

 “So in order for this to be a touring show I need to keep my numbers (of performers) down.”

After the Whitehorse premier, Fidler will be packing up his suitcases and heading south to Calgary for their August Fringe Festival.

“I would like to do a couple more shows in Whitehorse and then I’m looking to book a few dates while at the fringe festival,” he said.

The show can be enjoyed by ages eight to 80, said Fidler.

“It’s pretty PG,” he said.

“There’s nothing really violent in it — there’s an attempted suicide, but it’s treated very gently.”

Performances will take place at the Old Fire Hall on July 24, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. with noon matinees on July 25, 26 and 27.

The evening shows are $12, while the matinees are $5.

Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office, Arts Underground and at the door.

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