A grandmother and her spirited granddaughter get ready for bed, but not without a story! Mysterious legends of two worlds - The Blue Planet, and Red Yellow. One is made of hope and opportunity, one is teeming with the pumpkin headed monsters. All of this story is seamlessly told with the aid of shadow puppetry and projection, with just one performer telling the grand story.
Physical Festival Chicago brings award winning story teller to Chicago
Gael Le Cornec is an Amazonian-born award-winning actress, playwright, and director who brought the expansive theme of this world’s refugee crisis even larger to span the moon, two opposing planets, and everything in between.
Le Cornec plays her own character, Mana -- a young girl seperated from her grandmother to make a long journey from her war-torn Red Yellow Planet, to the possibility of a better, safer life in Planet Blue. Along the way she encounters the pumpkin-headed monsters with long fingers that her grandmother warns her of. She even finds a new friend. This agreed upon co-adventurer is a doll with big, curly hair just like Mana whose name is Manita -- what a coincidence! Manita is also trying to find the Blue Planet -- double coincidence! So it’s off they go.
Characters and scenes shift effortlessly between the white cloth atop a projector, to right in front of us in the flesh. This reporter should also mention, Mana sees us, too! She speaks to us, inquires our strange activity, what with just sitting there in the dark staring at her. She also narrates as a range of unknowing guests become players in her story. It seems as if she checks in with us upon landing at her various intended and unintended destinations.
A key moment was in the way she found herself communicating with the individuals she was set out to encounter. Mana showcased a series of strategically revealing parts of her body with explanatory and identifying words. Unsurprisingly, this method only took her so far. What she never seemed to leave behind in her long travels, perhaps what kept her going, was her grandmother’s story.
Le Cornec’s use of humor, her childlike perspective, and talent in speaking of important world issues while keeping in the spirit of fiction is why this reporter would recommend those who are available to see her work -- while she’s still in the country to do so! If you’re a fan of storytelling in simple, yet creative form, this is your show!
For more information on this artist visit the Gael Le Cornec website.
Bookmark the Physical Festival Chicago website for more information.
Photos courtesy of Gael Le Cornec
About the Author:
Brittany Harlin is the founding artistic director of Chicago Urban Dance Collective and 2017 recipient of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award. Her influences are Hip Hop and Modern Dance Pioneers. In addition to company work, her dancing and choreography has been featured at Ragdale Foundation, Links Hall, Elastic Arts, Aragon Ballroom, DRAMA Duo Music Productions, Black Ensemble Theatre, and Hip Hop International.
Brittany’s focus is Hip Hop, Modern, Funk Styles, Waacking, and House, combined with growing knowledge of somatics and kinesiology, all through the concert dance lens. Her goal is to bring dance education to a place of complete body awareness, spiritual expression, and connection. Brittany hopes to establish her practice in expressive therapy, creating opportunities, and inclusiveness.
Her teaching artist pedagogy & philosophy are weighted in respecting the integrity of the vernacular movement, by sharing what she’s been taught from respected community members - and stopping exactly there. She relates those concepts to personal natural movement, and the energy of the dancers she’s working with. Her goal is to create solidarity between diverse backgrounds, conducive to the essence and intention of The Hip Hop Socio-Political Movement. Harlin’s passion in dance extends to her community as she has launched her most recent endeavor of teaching professionalism and industry standards to aspiring professional dancers.
When Brittany isn’t dancing, she is supplementing her work with her passions for poetry and songwriting. She’s been referred to as a fawn and a hippie on multiple, separate occasions.