Dirty Duckling: Ariadne aus Crete

Premiere spring 2023

Work in Progress performance 27 & 28 August 2022 at Sampo Festival, Helsinki

Ariadne aus Crete is a skillful puppetry solo and a mess woven out of Greek myths, historical losers, nomads, labyrinths of love and a one-woman’s mission to learn ventriloquism. On stage we see an antihero, i.e. a Finnish woman telling the myth of Ariadne with a lot of wool and some very ugly but big-hearted puppets. So… welcome to see, what happens if you leave a Finnish puppeteer to work alone for too many months!

Ariadne aus Crete is waiting on the shore line of Naxos, all alone and abandoned thousands of years ago. (She is also abandoned by Theseus, a young and beautiful Athenian, even though she was ready to leave all her life, family, roots and culture behind her.) Ariadne aus Crete finds a messy ball of yarn and starts to unwind the past: the hidden family secrets, palaces as big as labyrinths, a half-minded-half-brother-half-bull and a love that almost makes you lose yourself. Ariadne aus Crete gets more deep to her inner labyrinth and finally understands that the only way out is to go deeper, and then to turn right, right again, and once more right towards Dionysus, the god of wine, ecstasy of life and theatre.

Theme wise the show whirls around the cultural statuses from which the myth is built. When the princess of Crete Ariadne has betrayed and left behind her own family mostly because of Theseus from Athens (who had just killed Minotaur, the holy creature of Minoan culture and Ariadnes’  half-brother) Theseus answers the sacrifice by dumping her from his boat on the next possible island. From the history books we know that Athena later on actually destroyed the whole Minoan culture by replacing their gods and traditions with new ones. Of course, history knows too many of the same kind of “developments”, when strong cultures are wiping off the previous ones. But why can’t we just let all the cultures live? Do we really have to choose our identity instead of mixing it? Is Merja a decent Finnish person? Are the national identities still existing? What was so great in Theseus? And how did this myth actually go, and what do the sami people or moose have to do with it?

Despite the mess of thoughts behind the show, or maybe even because of it: Ariadne is lighthearted show, a good comedy spiced up with some sadness (the artist behind is a Finn, after all) which has enough air around one of the very essences of puppetry – manipulation. It’s a hymn to puppeteers’ hands, fingers and funny voices. This time with an additional technical twist: ventriloquism. 

Merja Pöyhönen: consept, script, performer, puppet building, sound design, production
Eve Mäkitalo: technical run, puppet building, assisting in pretty much everything

Essi Santala: lights
Antti-Juhani Manninen: sound
Hanne Lammi: puppets
Aura of Puppets: production

 Dirty Duckling is a Finnish puppet theatre Company. It was established in 2008 in Turku by a group of newly graduated and over enthusiastic puppeteers. During its pioneering existence it has become one of the most acknowledged collectives in Finnish new-wave puppet theatre field. The group is known for their fresh and a bit anarchistic style and ambitious puppetry. Dirty Duckling’s performances are based on keen and devoted puppet manipulation, but they also borrow means of expressions from different art forms. All together this hyperactive group has created almost 30 performances, for adult and young audiences and their performances have visited several national events and festivals. Dirty Duckling is part of the bigger puppet theatre srtists’ network Aura of Puppets.