Turning Japanese

Bulgarian-born and Colorado-based puppet artist Margarita Blush says it was the rediscovery of a childhood book of Japanese folk tales that set her on the trail of creating The Crane Wife, her new puppet-theater work, now showing at the Boulder Public Library. As a result of her find, says Blush, "I started reading about Japanese theater and culture. I became more and more mesmerized by the Japanese way of looking at life and theater, and the aesthetic of everything Japanese." Then, during a side trip back to Bulgaria while her husband studied there in a Fulbright program, a script based on the tale began to materialize in collaboration with puppet master Dimitar Dimitrov, who designed and built the puppets, costumes and scenery to match her concept. "I brought back a suitcase full of puppets," Blush recalls. "And in October, we began rehearsals."

But don't expect a straight Eastern interpretation. "My goal," she continues, "was to create a kind of East meets West performance. I couldn't and wouldn't want to develop something traditionally Japanese, but I did use elements from Japanese theater -- kabuki and bunraku -- as well as the musical aesthetic, the acting and the style of the puppets. "I believe I've succeeded in [blending the two]," she says of the work, which is delivered with a Western twist.

Blush presents The Crane Wife, the story of a Japanese boy who saves a crane with magical outcomes, tonight at 7 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the BPL's Canyon Theater, 1000 Canyon Boulevard in Boulder. Admission is free; for more information, visit www.boulderlibrary.org.
Fri., Jan. 20, 7 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 21, 2 p.m., 2012