Haines puppet troupe Geppetto’s Junkyard took the stage of the Chilkat Center last weekend. Through puppets and people, the production told a story of a woman whose heart is stolen – literally. And, her journey to get it back.
The sound of a heartbeat is heard through the show, as the main character Melenka tries desperately to get hers back.
Melenka’s heart was stolen by Mr. Fetch, a character voiced, and a puppet operated, by Melina Shields.
Mr. Fetch takes her heart to be sold in the City of Monsters.
Hannah Bochart wrote the show, Melenka and the City of Monsters.
“I kind of wrote over the course of one night for the most part,” says Bochart. “And then my sister, Merrick Bochart, contributed one scene as well.”
Bochart also plays the main character, Melenka. With one big challenge. For most of the story, Melenka can’t talk.
“It was a challenge to me to try to make a puppet that moves as well as possible, since you’re trying to convey a character without words,” says Bochart. “And I also kind of like the idea of having a main character that has things happen to them and has to react.”
Bochart says the story could be interpreted in a few different ways.
“Bit of a cautionary tale in that, you don’t – I think one of the characters literally says in the play, ‘If you don’t use it you lose it.’ But it’s also sort of a tale of self-discovery and learning how to use a literal and figurative heart,” says Bochart. “And what is the point of being alive and having potential for adventure and love and caring.”
It’s also a story of humor, especially when Bochart’s sister Merrick is on stage, with her husband Joey Jacobson.
“It’s usually the other way around,” says Hannah Bochart. “She’s the one with the grander, serious ideas, and I tend to add the humor. But this time around she was really on fire with it. I think her and her husband Joey just really kind of got to it and they were cracking me up. A lot of their scenes when they were together were improve as well.”
In the end, Melenka finds her heart, just as the Boiler Man is about to burn it – an alternative energy used in the City of Monsters.
“Well you must not have been putting it to good use, if Mr. Fetch stole it,” says the Boiler Man. “Mr. Fetch and all the peddlers like him keep our city alive. More and more human hearts are being wasted these days. Letting the poor things go stale. While you waste your lives. Never touching each other, never meeting one others’ eyes. Humans, you’ve got these engines in your chests. Enough to keep the lights on forever if you just use them right. Any you’re letting them rust.”
In the end, as explained by Mr. Fetch, “the best use of a heart is to give it away.”