Lupita's Revenge - Puppet show with live music
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Lupita's Revenge - Puppet show with live music

Athens, GA | Established. Jan 01, 2018

Athens, GA
Established on Jan, 2018
Band Latin

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Feb
22
Lupita's Revenge - Puppet show with live music @ The Historic Thomas Center

Gainesville, FL

Gainesville, FL

Oct
06
Lupita's Revenge - Puppet show with live music @ Le Chat Noir

Augusta, GA

Augusta, GA

Apr
26
Lupita's Revenge - Puppet show with live music @ Athica Athens Institute

Athens, GA

Athens, GA

Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


ATHICA will host a special shadow puppetry performance this week. “Lupita’s Revenge” is presented in the “crankie” style, an art form that tells stories through scrolls of silhouettes that are illuminated from behind and hand-cranked across a custom, miniature-theater-like screen. Enhancing the live art, Tango Hambre will perform a live soundtrack of Latin American classics.

Written and directed by Abel Klainbaum, the narrative revolves around Mexico City’s most beloved luchador, “El Guapo” Jimenez, who meets his demise during the final fight of his career. Flash forward 20 years, when his daughter Lupita, who was only 5 years old when she witnessed his untimely end, ventures to Valdosta on a quest to avenge her father’s death by confronting his assailant.

“I knew that I wanted to write a revenge play. And I wanted to incorporate elements that interest me: silhouettes, Mexican wrestlers, old movies, murder ballads and tangos,” says Klainbaum. “But most importantly, I knew that I wanted to make a highly stylized puppet show, and to treat it cinematically. So I always assumed I was directing a short film, with intricate compositions, camera movements whenever possible, and even cutaways—and that it would all be performed live.”

Klainbaum was first introduced to shadow puppetry through a friend who invited him to improvise music during a one-scene presentation at her school. A photographer by trade, he always had a fancy for silhouettes, and the experience firmly planted the idea of creating his own project one day.

“I spent probably 50 to 70 hours creating the locomotive for the opening scene—drawing, tracing, testing different papers, cutting by hand and by machine—all while experimenting with different styles of rivets and magnets and squiggly-looking metal parts. That set the tone for the amount of detail that I wanted to show starting when the curtain opened,” says Klainbaum.

Luckily, a friend introduced him to visual artist Phil Jasen, who then brought Anthony Gaskins into the fold, and they focused on bringing the physical characters to life, allowing Klainbaum the time to focus on storyboards. Along with artist Laura Maria Ramirez, who also assists in puppeteering, Klainbaum and his new troupe met at his home studio roughly once a week over the course of two years to develop “Lupita’s Revenge.”
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(L-R) Jeremy Raj, Megan Cole, Elijah Neesmith, Laura Maria Ramirez, Abel Klainbaum, Phil Jasen, Keiko Ishibashi, Anthony Gaskins

“The screen was completely fabricated by Matt Zbornik, who creates one-of-a-kind furniture and sculptures. He stopped by my house one day and saw the work in progress,” says Klainbaum. “I showed him the locomotive and my pathetic screen made of old lumber and shower curtains. He looked sad, and maybe it was a wave of sympathy or something, but he then invited me to his studio every day for a week to design and assemble our current screen, which is a work of art and almost a character in itself, and that raised the ante even more for us.”

The shadow puppetry is accompanied by a live score by Tango Hambre, a group comprised of Megan Cole on vocals and ukulele, Keiko Ishibashi on violin, Elijah Neesmith on bass, Jeremy Raj on guitar and Klainbaum on accordion. In addition to performing classic tangos, a handful of Mexican rancheras and even a couple of jazz standards thrown in between scenes, the musicians serve as foley creators, synchronizing sound effects to enhance the visual production.

With performances at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and Barking Legs Theater in Chattanooga under their belts, the performers intend to take their van full of puppets and a few hundred pounds of gear on the road for a week-long tour of New York and Philadelphia. Until then, the troupe will offer two final local performances this week: Thursday, Apr. 26 at ATHICA and Sunday, Apr. 29 at Creature Comforts. Both events kick off at 7 p.m. with an hour-long reception, and attendees are encouraged to look behind the scenes following the performance. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance at travelingpuppetshow.com. - Flagpole


“Lupita’s Revenge” is a traveling, 50-minute show made entirely of shadow puppets, brought into creation by a team of musicians and visual artists in Athens. The show first premiered in July last year, with about eight or nine shows now under the belt. Plans are for it to travel soon all the way to places like New Jersey, New York and Asheville.

As writer and director (and also accordion player), Abel Klainbaum is the brain at the top of the show’s team. He’s an artist and filmmaker who moved to Athens about 12 years ago, after growing up in Bogota, Colombia, and then moving with his family to to Miami when he was 10.

He was inspired to move to Athens after some times of visiting friends who lived there, and he thought it was the perfect place to make creative projects.

“A friend was doing a little, very basic shadow puppetry show, at a school in town and invited me, and I just fell in love with the shadows and the silhouette work,” Klainbaum said. “And then I kind of slowly became obsessed, and then before I knew it, two years later, we had a team of eight of my favorite artists kind of all chipping in and making it grow. So we started with like a simple story and some accordion music, and then four of my favorite musicians joined in, and then a couple guys who actually are expert visual illustrators, and they kind of took over that, I had made a little screen. And then like a local builder in town saw it and saw the progress, and then he took over and made a screen for us, which is kind of a work of art in itself. So it kind of just snowballed and got out of my hands quickly — it was great.”

The show itself has a ton of parts, and it’s not easy to transport them. There’s the screen, which by itself is hundreds of pounds of wood, paper and aluminum. Then there’s about 100 feet of paper that scrolls through the screen to create the story, on what’s called a “crankie.” There are at least 80 other moving parts. Other materials used in the show include cardboard and vinyl.

Klainbaum laughs when he’s asked about the setting of the story: Valdosta, Ga.

“Yeah, I’m not entirely sure (why),” he said. “Our bass player’s from Valdosta, and I don’t know why I wrote that in, as maybe to give Valdosta a little bit of attention in the arts, I’m not sure.”

According to the show’s description, the story “is based around Lupita’s quest to avenge her fauther, Mexico City’s most beloved luchador, “El Guapo” Jimenez, who met his end during the last fight of his career. Lupita’s quest for revenge takes her on a journey to Valdosta, Ga., to confront her father’s assailant.” He describes the show as “adult-themed but kid friendly — it’s a vengeance play set in Georgia: lots of Mexican wrestlers, underwater fight scenes, breathtaking visuals… all supported with a soundtrack of Latin American classics.”

He thinks of this show as live filmmaking — everything is live, including the music. When watching the show, it’s a little mysterious how all the parts move — but attendees are treated to a behind-the-scenes experience afterward.

“That is top-secret information,” Klainbaum said with a laugh. “No, we’re actually very sharing, so we like to play a big game about keeping it a mystery, but then after the show, we love to invite people to the back and see what we do and we show them and give away our little secrets, because it’s kind of fun.”

One thing to keep in mind if you attend this show is, you’ll be asked to keep your phone put away for an hour. You’ll enjoy it more if you do (and, let’s be honest — all live shows are more enjoyable if you’re not staring down at your little pocket screen).

“The beauty of what we’re doing, it’s almost like a time machine going back in time, and we’re doing live music, we’re doing live images, and we’re kind of asking the audience to spend one hour with us,” Klainbaum said. “Not on their phones, not recording it, not sharing it. Every show’s a little bit different — we mess up little things here and there. It’s basically like a little community thing where, we’re almost daring people to take one hour off and just unplug and just enjoy the images and music and have a drink and have fun. And also not to disrupt other people, because we have one light source, and it’s a pretty bright source, lighting the screen from behind, and it’s like all of a sudden with people lighting their faces with a phone, it kind of takes away a little bit of the charm.”



Lupita’s Revenge
6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6
Le Chat Noir
westoboufestival.com; pass required - Metrospirit


Lupita’s Revenge is a ‘crankie-opera’ with live music, featuring a soundtrack of Latin American classics performed by Tango Hambre. Written and directed by Abel Klainbaum. Featuring original art by Phil Jasen and Anthony Gaskins.

For more information visit www.travelingpuppetshow.com - The Chattanoogan


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

“Lupita’s Revenge” is our 45-minute shadow-puppet play created by an alliance of eight musicians and visual artists from Athens, GA.

The vengeance play features a live soundtrack of Latin American classics performed by a five-piece band in front of audiences of up to 140.

Currently booking 2019 and 2020 shows for museums, galleries, universities, and black box theaters.

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