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Seeing Spirits

The Tufts costume shop was humming this January in preparation for Anthony Cornish's production of Macbeth. But along with costumes was something new: the crafting of eight apparitions, descendants of the murdered Banquo. The kingly spirits were the creation of Wanda Strukus, a PhD candidate in theater, who has found puppets a provocative tool in playwriting. Making visible an entity that is invisible, said Strukus, meant stretching the imagination while honoring the integrity of the play.They had to have some ghostly quality, but the production was rooted in earthiness and physicality," she said. "And since the puppeteers would also be seen, the puppets had to have body and weight." Strukus chose to drape a skeletal form (made of foam, wire and papier-mâché) with layers of tulle. When viewed as a group, the row of silent, green-hued faces creates a chilling experience in itself, both otherworldly and real. "It was exciting to have the scene brought to a different level and to be able to work with a student cast, most of whom had never worked with puppets before," said Strukus, who is drawn to puppets as a "juxtaposition of the human body and the nonhuman body. It's an old and fascinating tradition, and I think Shakespeare's idea has been heightened by what puppets can do. Audiences seem to accept a representation of the human body, to fold it into their understanding, and then wait to see what will happen."



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