Last fall Dr. Anita Rose and Professor Meg Tominaga developed an idea for one of the most unique collaborations Converse has ever seen, blending the writings of Charles Dickens and Japanese puppetry.
A conversation between the two faculty members sparked the idea. “We were discussing different ways that we engage students with our respective subjects both in and out of the classroom,” Professor Tominaga explained. “I was thinking about planning an informal performance incorporating puppetry and Dr. Rose was just planning her upcoming fall class which focused on the works of Charles Dickens.”
Dr. Rose’s literature class read the Dickens novel, Bleak House, while Professor Tominaga adapted an excerpt of that novel for her theatre students to perform. Professor Tominaga’s students used a blend of mask, shadow puppetry and table-top puppets, which are the Western version of Japanese bunraku puppets.
The result was a puppetry workshop performance billed as “Mystery! Scandal! Murder! Puppets!” Theatre Converse had two successful performances of Bleak House: Esther, an abridged selection from the Charles Dickens classic novel, adapted for the puppet stage.
Professor Tominaga developed that experience into a paper “Extracting and Adapting: Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and a Ten-Day Experiment” which she presented at the Mid-America Theatre Conference in Milwaukee.