Archive for Monday, February 22, 1999


February 22, 1999


Every child and adult has dreams when they're asleep -- sometimes scary, sometimes happy. In the imaginative hands of Theatre Sans Fil, dreams become fantastical tools to teach youngsters how to cope with things that seem to big for them to handle.

"The Dream Catchers," a one-hour show utilizing giant puppets maneuvered by five black-clad puppeteers in the Japanese Bunraku tradition, drew a large crowd Sunday afternoon at the Lied Center, and it was good to see as many -- or more -- children as adults in the audience.

"The Dream Catchers" is based on the work of Canadian children's author Henriette Major, who interviewed nearly 500 children about their dreams. The result is a story that revolves around siblings Melissa and Jeffrey, who share their happy dreams and confront the troublesome characters in their nightmares.

Jeffrey recalls his yummy encounter with a giant candy tree as well as a fight with a crocodile, which he tames with a tickle. Melissa recalls a dream that begins with a party at a majestic castle and then turns frightening when a huge hand tries to catch her. Her terror is ended when a beautiful unicorn comes to her rescue.

As their dream stories progress, the youngsters encounter a wicked witch, a vampire, a gangster, a ghost without a face and a monster under the bed, and they discover that nightmares disappear when a little light is shown on them.

Adding to the production's storytelling value is the use of special effects: Black lights bring out the puppets' brilliant colors, fireworks explode and fog adds an element of ominous mystery.

The Montreal-based Theatre Sans Fil pays attention to all elements of its shows -- music, lighting, voices, movement, text, puppet design. And as a result, the puppet company is considered, and rightfully so, among the best in the world.

-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is

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