ORLANDO – The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival kicks off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16 at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, and runs through May 29. This year the nearly three-week long festival will feature the largest line-up of shows in its history.
Adam Francis Proulx has a show at Fringe, and he has a large cast joining him — 12 others, in fact. Proulx and his The Pucking Fuppet Co. have a show about a scintillating trial that’s going on. The Baker has been found dead in his bathtub, his husband the Butcher is the main suspect, and is now on trial.
But then again, what happened to the mysterious Candlestick Maker, who was also in the bathtub(!) at the time of the murder? Hmmm.
It’s now up to the 12-member jury to sort it all out.
Welcome to Proulx’s award-winning adult puppet show, “Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets.” Our puppeteer Adam transforms one puppet into the twelve members of the jury trying to decide the Butcherʼs fate. With a briefcase full of facial features, “This show explores stereotypes, our preconceptions, and the idea that we really are all made of the same stuff,” Adam noted.
As a longtime lover of puppet shows, Freeline Media decided Adam needed to tell us a lot more about this show..
Freeline Media: The classic Hollywood movie “12 Angry Men” — puppet-style. Do tell!
Adam Francis Proulx: Yes! Based on the spirit of that — although the plot is all new. In our version, it’s about the Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker. They were all in the bathtub together one night, as per the classic nursery rhyme, then the Baker was killed. The Butcher is now on trial and no one knows where the mysterious Candlestick Maker is.
It’s similar to the play/movie the title is making a nod to, in that it’s all about a jury’s deliberation. It’s about the period of time from when the characters leave the courtroom to the moment right before they give their verdict.
FM: How does the bathtub fit onto the stage?
Adam: There’s no tub on stage, but it does factor heavily into the plot. I always thought the nursery rhyme was funny: it’s clearly meant for children, yet it centers around three men in a tub together. So then I went a few steps further and added murder.
FM: What’s the key to a really effective puppetry show?
Adam: I mean, anything can be — and is — turned into a puppet show, but what interests me about using puppetry to tell a story is what it can do that other mediums can’t. For example, in “Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets,” I use a ‘jury box’ full of noses, eyeballs, wigs, etc. to dress a single puppet into 12 different characters. The metaphor here, if it’s not hitting you over the head already, is that we’re all made of the same pieces. I use the same set of eyeballs for three characters, for example, but the placement totally changes who they are. And that’s what this show is really about: stereotypes and how we think of people we don’t understand as ‘other’ and ‘unlike us.’
Also, this show started as an experiment in how I could use my performance as a puppeteer to further the story of the puppet characters — as opposed to wearing all black and trying to blend into the background as is traditional. For example, I have one character who sort of perches atop my head, which immediately gives her an air of superiority. So that’s where the title came from: a baker’s dozen is 12 and then one more — the puppeteer in this case; the sort of extra one that’s included in the 12 somehow.
FM: Sounds like there’s some humor to this one as well.
Adam: Definitely a comedy despite the sometimes serious subject matter. I once had someone refer to the show as a comedy with dramatic relief.
FM: After Fringe, where does “Baker’s Dozen” go from there?
Adam: I’ve been touring with this show for three years now. It has a lot of festivals in its past. It won Best Puppetry at the Toronto Fringe Festival, Best Solo Show at Montreal Fringe, Pick of the Fringe at Vancouver Fringe and Official Selection, Toronto Festival of Clowns. It has been filmed for TV, opened for Canadian celebrity Rick Mercer — think of a Canadian Jon Stewart — toured regional theaters and Pride Festivals, and on and on.
Every time I think the show has run its course, it keeps on going. The next official thing is a week-long run in St. John’s, Newfoundland early next year. I’m currently working on a new show and am the associate artistic director at the Victoria Playhouse in Ontario, Canada, so we’ll see if I am able to jam any more “Baker’s Dozen” shows in before then.
“Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets” is being performed in the Red Venue on the following dates:
* Wednesday, May 17 at 3:45 p.m. (press preview)
* Thursday, May 18 at 8:45 p.m.
* Friday, May 19 at 10:15 p.m.
* Sunday, May 21 at 10:15 p.m.
* Wednesday, May 24 at 8:30 p.m.
* Friday, May 26 at 5:30 p.m.
* Saturday, May 27 at 10:30 p.m.
* Sunday, May 28 at 2:30 p.m.
For tickets visit Orlando Fringe. To learn more about the show, visit 12 Angry Puppets, Adam Francis Proulx, and Pucking Puppets Co..
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..