Shank’s Mare is the story of two wandering travelers whose paths intersect in time and space. Using traditional kuruma ningyo puppetry, live feed video projection, miniature sets and a live score by Bill Ruyle (hammer dulcimer) and Chieko Hara (shamisen and flute), the piece explores life and death and how tradition is passed on.
Shank’s Mare is the first La MaMa production in our newest performance space, The Downstairs, located at 66 East 4th Street (the same building at the Ellen Stewart Theatre).
“For the first time in ages, the venerable La MaMa has opened a new performance space. The Downstairs is another of the venue’s brick-lined, tin-ceilinged exquisites, though this one is tucked away in the basement, a snug little wine cave where some of us sit on low benches. Before the equally miniature and enchanting Shank’s Mare, two four-foot-tall Japanese puppets perform a ceremonial dance, the sanbaso, to welcome this new stage into being. The operators sit behind them on small rolling boxes—a technique known as kuruma ningyo—stamping the puppets’ feet, turning the floor into sacred space by treading on it in just the right way.”
– Helen Shaw, Time Out New York
Tom Lee was born in Korea raised in Mililani, Hawai’i. He is a theatre designer and director based in New York who specializes in Asian-inspired forms of puppet theater combined with technology. For more info on Tom Lee click here!
Koryu Nishikawa V is the fifth generation headmaster of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo (Cart puppetry company of Japan), a 160 year-old puppet theatre and an Intangible Folk Custom Cultural Asset of the Japanese government.
La MaMa Puppet Festival
The La MaMa Puppet Festival showcases new contemporary puppet theatre by artists from around the world. Curated by Denise Greber, focusing on diversifying the voices, stories, and perspectives shared onstage, with the goal of uplifting marginalized identities within the puppet community.
“Tom Lee and Koryu Nishikawa V’s Shank’s Mare at La MaMa’s new space, The Downstairs, is an opportunity to see some rare artistry at work…beautifully executed puppetry, visual effects and evocative music.”
– Alison Walls, Exeunt Magazine
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“This elaborate ninety-minute production is a collaboration of Japanese Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V of Japan and his American pupil, Pup- peteer-Designer-Director Tom Lee. A blend of Eastern and Western tradi- tions, this piece introduces us to a brand-new form of Puppetry for to- day’s audiences. It features hand- some puppets created in Japan and the US, ex- quisitely detailed miniature sets, live feed video projection, live musical accompaniment. . . and no spoken dialog.”
– Puppet Master Magazine
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“The puppetry with which these characters are brought to life is something close to magic and the magician at the helm is Nishikawa, the fifth generation headmaster of the 160-year-old traditional puppet theatre company, Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo. The puppets here, each one with distinct features and fine detail, are American-made by an obviously talented crew of carvers and designers.”
– A. C. Wright, Stage Buddy
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“Shank’s Mare, created by Tom Lee and Koryu Nishikawa V, is a puppet show using video, miniaturization, actors and music, all blended together for an enchanting evening mixing the Eastern and Western culture. You will be mesmerized by these stories and the way they are told…This show should not be missed.”
– James Chladek, Times Square Chronicles