During the Carlow Eigse Arts festival last month I was very lucky to catch an enchanting puppet
version of this well-loved tale – the Puppeteers won the 2007 Eco Prize for Creativity. It tells the story of a French man, who with his faithful dog – (a rather shook looking puppet, a real rascal who easily stole the show), planted trees anonymously for decades in a barren landscape, turning it into a prosperous, peaceful and fertile region (a simple story and a powerful vision, worth promoting even more so now).
Most people who love trees or have forests will have encountered this short story before, it has been a mainstay amongst environmentalists, including Wangari Matthai, winner of the Nobel Peace prize for her community forestry work in Kenya.
The story by Jean Giono has and continues to inspire many ever since it was first published in the late 50s. I was delighted to see it coming to Carlow and glad I made the effort to see it, as the production was a charming, multi-sensory and humourous!
The UK State Puppet Theatre Co, led by the professional puppeteer, Richard Medrington, created this enchanting show with Rick Conte and Ailie Cohen. There was no surprise to learn that is was a sell-out at last year’s Edinburgh’s 07 festival, both for young and old audiences. I went up to Richard afterwards and was interested to hear that he has worked often with the Scottish forestry dept, who had commissioned them to do their show to encourage youngsters and their families about planting – maybe the Irish Forest dept or Coilte might follow their example.
Catch the next performance or get the DVD! (I did) from the link above
“Laughs, heartbreak, war, regeneration, scented breezes, sparkling wit, the best dog puppet ever. Perfect for children and grown-ups. Terrific.”