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Media Advisory

For immediate use 

Nov. 1, 2005 -- No. 527

1-2 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 2)
Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre
Center for Dramatic Art
Country Club Road, near intersection of Raleigh Road/N.C. 54
UNC campus

Puppets, actors of ‘Tall Horse’
to address UNC drama class

Three cast members of "Tall Horse," the African puppet theater performance to be staged this weekend at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will speak to a drama class and demonstrate two large, colorful puppets from the show. The public also is invited.

One of the students will get to climb inside the 7-foot puppet of the Beautiful Lady of Lyon, elegant in her floor-length royal blue gown and striking with her magnificently long neck and head.

The body section of the life-sized puppet of a French consul character also will be demonstrated, replete in his ruffled yellow shirt and a black and white patterned tail coat lined in red. (In the show, another actor "wears" the character’s legs, which, during comic moments in the show, become separated from his body.)

Wednesday’s speakers will be producer Basil Jones and puppet designers Adrian Kohler of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company and Yaya Coulibaly of Mali’s Sogolon Puppet Troupe. All three play multiple roles in "Tall Horse," to be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 5) and 3 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 6) in Memorial Hall.

A short audiovisual presentation also is planned, plus discussion of how "Tall Horse" came about and how the puppets were designed to move as they do.

"Tall Horse," playing in only six U.S. venues, puts a contemporary spin on 19th-century events. It is inspired by the true story of the gift of a giraffe from the Pasha of Egypt to King Charles X of France. Puppets and people turn the tables on historic perspective, telling the tale of the discovery of Europe by Africa.

Perhaps the most striking puppet in "Tall Horse" is the 16-foot giraffe, operated by two actors on stilts inside the wood-framed and silk-covered exterior.

Directions: From Raleigh, exit I-40 at N.C. 54 and follow the ramp to the right onto N.C. 54 West toward Chapel Hill. Pass under the U.S. 15-501 bridge and go up the hill to campus. At the signal (and the stone UNC entrance tablet), turn right onto Country Club Road. Turn into the first driveway on the left, just before the Center for Dramatic Art, and park in the driveway. Walk north onto to the terrace in front of the building and enter the first doors to the left. Walk to the right to the theater.

Interviews: Coulibaly, Jones and Kohler will be available after the class. Whitney Martin of the Memorial Hall staff will translate from French for Coulibaly.

Coverage: Reporters and photographers may view and shoot the session from a balcony overlooking the theater or the second and third risers on either side section.

Photographers: All will be asked to stay in place on the balcony or risers during the presentation so as not to disrupt the class, distract students from participating or block the view of students and the public.

The large, colorful puppets should make for excellent photos; video also should be outstanding, as the actors demonstrate the puppets and help a student climb into the Beautiful Lady of Lyon puppet. House lights will be strong except during the audiovisual presentation.

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Drama class professor: John R. Harris, assistant professor of dramatic art, 843-5501, john_harris@unc.edu
Center for Dramatic Art production manager:
Jason Pritchard, 843-9856, Jason_prichard@unc.edu
News Services contacts:
Print, L.J. Toler, 962-8589; broadcast, Karen Moon, 962-8595