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'Time for Fun' doesn't need words to grab audiences

| Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Hand Made Theatre
Hand Made Theatre's 'Time for Fun'
Hand Made Theatre
Hand Made Theatre's 'Time for Fun'

At “Time for Fun,” the audience will see moving shapes of animals, trains, boats, ticking clocks, ballerinas and other things. But really, all the audience is seeing is a big group of interlocking, white-gloved hands, moving together in intricate choreography to create images that seem magical.

That sounds difficult to visualize, but watching the sophisticated hand puppetry is amazing, says the artistic director of the Russian company that created and produces “Time for Fun,” which plays at several Pittsburgh-area locations for the next week.

“It's really complicated also to explain it … because you need to see it,” says Ekaterina Georgievskaia, artistic director, administrator and general manager for Hand Made Theatre, based in St. Petersburg. “Sometimes, people tell us, even after the show … ‘I can't imagine how did you it?'

“Of course, we try to give them fun,” she says.

During most of the show, presented by Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, the audience won't see the nine performers' faces and bodies: just the hands. The performers' arms interlock and entwine to create the three-dimensional shapes, with background music playing. There is no dialogue in this show; it's just a visual spectacle, Georgievskaia says.

The shapes “turn up out of nowhere. They float and dance in the air. All made with people's hands,” she says.

The hands also will spell out words of greeting to the audience, who will get a Pittsburgh-themed surprise at the end, Georgievskaia says.

“You must forget that the hands belong to bodies,” she says. “They transform into tiny dancers. You just wonder how the performance can create these shapes. You just see the fingers and hands.”

Performers in “Time for Fun” are mostly young adults.

“Everything is just a game for them,” Georgievskaia says. “They really think it's the best job in the world.”

Hand Made Theatre has performed throughout Europe, including at the Carnival of Venice in Italy. The company made its debut in the United Kingdom last year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Pamela K. Lieberman, manager of children's theater programming for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and executive director of Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, says that “Time for Fun” fits with the organization's mission of providing outstanding live theater for children.

“These Russian performers will delight and amaze audiences with their intricate skills of puppetry,” Lieberman says in a written statement.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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