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Ko'olau, designed and directed by Tom Lee, is an intimate and inventive puppet performance based on a now-legendary story of Hawai'i in the 1890s. The title character, Kaluaiko'olau (hereafter Ko'olau), hides with his wife and son in the Kalalau Valley of Kauai as he tries to elude the sheriff's men and escape deportation to a leper colony. The story captures both a fundamental struggle for personal freedom and the triumph of unconditional love in the most difficult circumstances. Lee addresses these powerful themes with puppetry that evokes the poetry of the Hawaiian language and the natural environment of the islands. His production utilizes raw, handcarved puppets in the kuruma ningyo style (wheeled puppet theater of Japan-unusual to see in New York) and live shadow and video projection inspired by Hawaiian woodcut carving. The performers are four puppeteers, two musicians and two projectionists who animate live shadow and video images onto a screen at the back of the stage
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