‘The Amazing Night-time Adventure of Little Hawelmann’ at Imagination Stage by Julia L. Exline

Imagination Stage presents The Amazing Night-time Adventure of Little Hawelmann, a puppetry delight created and performed by the founders of Theater der Nacht, Heiko, and Ruth Brockhausen. Brought all the way from Germany, this story is based on the fairy tale by Theodor Storm about a restless boy who embarks on a nighttime adventure alongside the moon, and is recommended for children ages 3-6.

Puppeteer Ruth Brockhausen. Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage.

Puppeteer Ruth Brockhausen sends screams of laughter roaring through the audience when she enters the stage in a vast, billowy costume made up of folds of deep-blue felt, and with her face framed by a crescent. She is the moon, and explains (in both English and German) that she hides stories beneath her massive vest. Upon deciding of the story of Hawelmann, she sweeps aside lengths of material to reveal a makeshift stage wrapped around her entire torso. The effect of having the set, characters, and costume all together in one piece is immensely interesting, and something that I have never seen before. Aside from the lighting and sound (which are minimal) the performer essentially carries around the entire production with her. Felt backdrops that are laid against her chest show a variety of settings, and change with a simple flip, going between places such as a village, forest, space, and sea.

Using a variety of finger and hand puppets, Brockhausen tells the story of Hawelmann, a feisty baby boy who refuses to go to sleep, to the frustration of the moon. Transforming his bed into a boat and his nightshirt into a sail, they travel the world, encountering creatures such as cats, mice, and even a hungry wolf! The lively Hawelmann causes his own share of rebellious ruckus, an example being when he visits a village and dances to loud music, despite complaints from sleeping locals. From flying amongst the stars to swimming in the sea, Hawelmann has his shares of adventures. Will he be able to find his way back to his cradle, or, more importantly, will be ever grow tired, or will the moon’s patience disappear with the rising sun?

Since the performer uses small finger puppets, I suggest that you sit close to the stage if you have weak vision. Other than that, the children in the audience had a wonderful time watching the puppets. Brockhausen goes back and forth between English and German, and the exposure to children’s theatre shown through the eyes of another culture is both interesting and enriching. Treat your child (and yourself!) to showing of The Amazing Night-time Adventure of Little Hawelmann!

Puppeteer Ruth Brockhausen. Photo courtesy of Imagination Stage.

Running time is 40 minutes, without an intermission.

The Amazing Night-time Adventure of Little Hawelmann plays through November 21, 2012 at Imagination Stage – 4908 Auburn Avenue, in Bethesda, MD. For tickets, call (301) 280-1660, or order them online.


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