Founded in Germany in 1982, The Sandglass Theater company specializes in creating original theater with puppets. The company relocated to Vermont in 1986, according to co-director Eric Bass. The theater’s mission is to explore contemporary issues and to inspire dialogue. One such issue that has touched the hearts of the theater company is that of the plight of refugees and how people embraced and sometimes recoiled from refugees resettling in their communities. Bass said, “It awoke something in us… We just really felt that we had to address this.”
So, the Sandglass Theater is putting on a new show: Babylon: A Journey of Refugees. This show will tell the stories of seven refugees who fled their homelands of Syria, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and Burundi to make new lives in Vermont. The theater company will blend their narratives with song, using puppets and hand-drawn scrolls; “… simple means,” the website states, “… not much more than someone could carry with them as they flee.” The show is set to make its debut on January 12th at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Putney, Vermont.
In order to create the production, the theater partnered with USCRI’s Vermont office. With USCRI’s help, they collected first-hand narratives and created songs, props and puppets to tell the refugees’ stories. “All the refugees in the story, they only speak through song,” Shoshana Bass said. “The cast would listen to the interviews, we’d pull out imagery, dialogue. Then, we’d explore. We worked on trying to find all the different voices of the people in the communities in which new citizens are being resettled and all of the fears that are coming up there … We are trying to encourage an atmosphere of listening above all else,” she said. The goal of the puppet show is to create “explosions” of moments, as Bass explained, and for these moments to shift the dialogue in response to the current view of refugees.
You can buy tickets for Babylon here.