Puppets parade through city streets

WILL HARVIE
Last updated 13:46 28/10/2013

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Art and Stage

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Ahh Christchurch, you missed another good one.

The Canterbury Tales parade performed last night to a crowd of less than 2000 people, but they were treated to a masterful performance.

The five huge puppets - notably the six-metre-tall Wife of Bath - were fabulous creations and best of all was the 5m-tall Scholar puppet.

He was the most sophisticated mechanically and voiced by the most sophisticated performer and ad-libber on the night, Canterbury Tales project director George Parker.  

The six lesser puppets - depicting friars - almost stole the the show. Few would have missed that one strongly resembled Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee and another was almost certainly Prime Minister John Key. But the puppeteers didn't act these personalities necessarily.

All of the friars were full of antics, embracing the audience with huge hands, high-fiving children and making small disputes with other characters.

The audience was allowed amongst the parade and puppets. We were free to cross the street, walk alongside the floats and interact with the puppets (and some wolves and a warg on stilts).

Of the dozens of parade marshalls, only one really tried to keep the audience in its place. At installations along the way, the audience was lightly challenged.

The Angel of History was balanced by an earthquake of horrible sound. Maori had symbolically occupied Cathedral Square and questioned the puppets and audience about colonial history. But these Maori also gave way to the puppets, all British in origin, and the parade ended in peace.

In The Canterbury Tales, the 14th-century satire by Chaucer, pilgrims try to outwit each other. In yesterday's Canterbury Tales, there was plenty of wit and satire and the tallest puppet managed to fit under the new tram wires.

Last year, the Festival of Transitional Architecture gave us LuxCity, the fabulous light show. This year Festa gave us Canterbury Tales, a fabulous procession.

Don't miss whatever they come up with next year.

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- The Press

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