Bulgarian Rhapsody

Margarita Blush, a European-trained Bulgarian puppeteer now living in Boulder, is a rarity on the Front Range whose magic touch transforms puppetry into an art form. Together with another local puppet master, Betsy Tobin, Blush plied this gift to create River Story, a unique take on Zlatka, the Girl Made Out of Gold, a traditional folk tale from her home country that ends with a modern twist. Blush is performing the work as part of the Boulder International Fringe Festival.

“I was intrigued by the female characters,” Blush says of the story that inspired her. But she’s left her mark on the finished product: “In the original story, the prince marries the good girl,” she continues. “But I took out the prince at the end, and the girl who gets the gold dress instead says, ‘I can do whatever I want in life, because everything I need is inside of me.’ I wanted to empower girls.” But it’s not just a very beautiful puppet show for kids. “Adults are touched by the meaning of the show - there’s a whole layer I put in there that the children don’t get, so adults can also enjoy the performance.”

Also a treat for local lovers of Balkan folk music, it features live singing and dancing, accompanied by Boulder musician James Hoskins on the gadulka, a lute-shaped, bowed stringed instrument used to play dance music. And the puppets themselves, handmade by the talented Tobin, are (as Blush notes unabashedly) quite beautiful. “We are fortunate to have found each other in Boulder,” she says of her partnership with Tobin. “There are not very many professionally trained puppeteers in this area.”

See River Story this afternoon at 3 p.m. at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, in the Henderson Building on the CU-Boulder campus; four more performances continue through August 22. Admission is $7 to $12, and children are welcome; visit http://boulderfringe.com for tickets and exact showtimes.
Thu., Aug. 13, 6 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 16, 3 p.m.; Tue., Aug. 18, 8 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 21, 6:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 22, 3 & 7:30 p.m., 2009

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