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Wakka Wakka Presents BABY UNIVERSE At Baruch Performing Arts Center, Begins 12/1

Wakka Wakka will present the U.S. premiere of its latest original theatre piece entitled "BABY UNIVERSE (A Puppet Odyssey)," written and directed by Wakka Wakka members Kirjan Waage and Gwendolyn Warnock, featuring over 30 expressive hand-and-rod puppets created by Mr. Waage. "BABY UNIVERSE" will begin performances on December 1 and will officially open on Sunday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue (enter on 25th Street just east of Lexington). Performances will run through Saturday, January 8, 2011.

In a few billion years, the sun will swallow up the earth and the planets, and our solar system will be no more. Since time immemorial, humankind has spun tales of our own looming destruction. In the face of the fear, hopelessness and desperation such tales elicit, we have told stories of salvation. Stories of a messenger with superhuman powers offering deliverance. Stories of love and hope. "BABY UNIVERSE" is such a story.

Scientists in Japan and Switzerland currently believe that they can create "micro black holes" and "baby universes." If and when these scientists succeed, it will provide an immeasurable challenge to the widespread belief that only God has had the ability to create life and the world as we know it. "BABY UNIVERSE" takes place in a time where this has happened. On the brink of their destruction the last inhabitants of a doomed "earth" furiously search for an escape from the dying sun. In a race against the clock, scientist-generated baby universes are being placed in the care of lonely spinsters in the hope that one might nurture to maturity a savior - a baby universe capable of birthing a planet that can support the relocation of the entire population.

"BABY UNIVERSE" will tackle profound questions in science, religion and morality. It will also investigate the increasingly topical theme of "what are we doing to our home?" The increase in the earth's population grows exponentially every 5 years. Green space dwindles in The Shadows of industry and urban sprawl. "BABY UNIVERSE" will explore the unavoidable repercussions of the way we live today. In an original piece presented with puppets ranging from 9 inches to 9 feet, masks, a Stephen Hawking inspired robot, animated video projection and a space-age score, Wakka Wakka spins the bizarre tale of "Baby Universe" - the ultimate savior, the last hope for deliverance, the messenger on whom the fate of an entire race rests.

The company of five puppeteers will be: Melissa Creighton, Andrew Manjuck, Peter Russo, Kirjan Waage, and Gwendolyn Warnock. The set design will be by Wakka Wakka and Joy Wang, the costume and mask design by Gwendolyn Warnock, the lighting design by Kate Leahy, the video design by Naho Taruishi, and the sound design by Brett Jarvis and Wakka Wakka. Directing consultants will be: Preben Faye-Schjøll and Daniel Goldstein. The score for "BABY UNIVERSE" has been composed by Lars Petter Hagen. The creative producer and U.S. Executive Producer is Gabrielle Brechner.

Wakka Wakka Productions Inc. (www.wakkawakka.org) is a group of theatre artists (Gabrielle Brechner, Kirjan Waage, and Gwendolyn Warnock) who share a common language in creation and ensemble work. Their mission is to push the boundaries of the imagination by creating works that are bold, unique and unpredictable. To date they have produced: b9: Clinch Mountain Lookout in August 2001 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Undermining superficial notions of beauty and normality, the play is centered on a seemingly perfect couple whose relationship disintegrates as domestic bliss turns to marital horror. In August 2002, in a co-production with Haugesund Theater in Norway, Wakka Wakka created Fattie and Skinny Show! Fattie and Skinny are two friends who put on a show in their living room. Hilariously inept performers, the pair attempts a series of vignettes, acting sometimes as lawyers, motorcycles, blind men or puppeteers, grinning and bowing between each skit. In 2003, Wakka Wakka Productions was invited to bring Fattie & Skinny Show! to New York City as part of the Stage '03 Festival at ManhattanTheatreSource. Due to popular demand, the show was extended for seven weeks at the Wings Theater in Greenwich Village. In 2004 the company wrote a new puppet based play entitled The Untold Story of Monkey. The show was performed for a four-week run at The Tank on 42nd Street. The play follows the adventures of a young monkey named Julius from his home in the jungle, to scientific laboratories, to outer space and finally, to his untimely death.


In addition to creating the original children's show seen throughout the NYC area, Erik the Amazing and the Shallaballah, and producing the short film The Birdman for Writer/Director Raffaelle Passerinini (Cannes Film Market), Wakka Wakka has also performed on the cabaret and vaudeville scene in NYC at various venues including Punch at Galapagos, Slutty Puppets at CBGBs Gallery, Schoolhouse Roxx at PS 122, Bowery Poetry Club, Clemente Soto Valez and Collective Unconscious.

In 2006, Wakka Wakka premiered The Death of Little Ibsen at the Sanford Meisner Theatre. The play is a unique blend of theater history, puppetry, and dark comedy mapping Ibsen's quest to find his true self. The New York Times called it "an exquisite little one-act show that evokes the best of Jim Henson's early, dangerous days with the Muppets. These people may be geniuses." Variety's reviewer said: "Within seconds The Death of Little Ibsen can move from hilarious to indescribably moving." The production extended its run three times.

Wakka Wakka's most recent work FABRIK: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz is about the life of the reAl Moritz Rabinowitz, an outspoken Polish-Jewish émigré to Norway, an entrepreneur who the Nazi's mistakenly dubbed "the leader of the Jewish Resistance in Norway." FABRIK opened in January 2008 at Urban Stages Theatre. The New York Times called it a "powerfully affecting production that capitalizes on the range of the art form (puppetry) and takes it to impressive heights." FABRIK has toured extensively throughout festivals, theatres and universities in Norway, the U.S. and the U.K. The production was nominated for a 2007-08 Drama Desk Award for "Unique Theatrical Experience" and was awarded a 2008 UNIMA Citation of Excellence.


"BABY UNIVERSE" is a co-production of Wakka Wakka, with Nordland Visual Theatre (where it had its World Premiere in September), in cooperation with Riksteatret.

The complete schedule for "BABY UNIVERSE" (December 1, 2010 through January 8, 2011) will be: Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. There will be four additional performances: Tuesdays, December 21 and 28 at 8:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, January 7 and 8 at 10 p.m. There will be no performances on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, December 24, 25, 26, 31, and January 1 and 2. All preview ticket prices are $20.00. (The performance on Saturday, December 4 at 8:00 p.m. is a benefit for the company and is a higher priced ticket that includes a party with the company following the performance.) Beginning with the Opening Performance on Sunday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m. all tickets are $30.00, with $20.00 tickets for students and seniors. Tickets for all performances are available at 212-352-3101 (or online at www.theatermania.com).

 


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