By Liz Oakley
11th Grade, Brearley School
The Mountain Song is a tale, told through music and puppetry, of a father who sets off in search of his daughter’s wedding, without knowing where it’s taking place. Along the way he meets unexpected friends, faces dangers, and makes fantastic discoveries. Animals in this play talk and giants roam the land. Equally astonishing are the talents of the seven-man ensemble, all very young and seemingly able to play almost any musical instrument; the play is interspersed with gorgeous folksy ballads and rousing bluegrass tunes.
From the beginning, the performers make their intention very clear: they are here to tell us a story. The story itself, which resembles a classic American folk tale, is entertaining enough, but it is the way in which they tell it that is truly captivating. The ensemble uses their versatile acting abilities, musical talents, and clever theatrical craftsmanship to create the journey for us. They imaginatively use puppetry, lighting, and props to create beautiful, atmospheric versions of the events. Their tools are simple, and first and foremost among them is the imagination of the audience, which is called upon to turn simple theatrical tricks into a reality. Though it’s simple, the actors believe in the power of their own illusions, and so do we.
As an audience member at The Mountain Song, you feel like an essential part of the experience. The presence of a narrator who addresses you directly makes you feel like the story is being told just for you. The intimacy of the venue also contributes to this electric dynamic between performers and audience.
The essence of theatre is the art of storytelling, and PigPen brings a new life and vision to that art. The various stage pictures and songs of the piece will stay with me for a long time. Everyone should experience the art of this group—it will transport you, reawaken you, and when words fail to express your wonder, it will make you smile.
By Liz Oakley