C. Kennedy’s “Jug-Baby” at the Rotunda

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[New artblog contributor and writer Kitty Caparella leads us into the strange, yet sentimental life of Jug-Baby–a creature whose troubles mirror our own. — the artblog editors]

When you enter the fantastical world of “Jug-Baby: An Autobiography,” told by C. Kennedy, puppeteer, actor, set designer, writer, and director of Transition Theatre, prepare to suspend all semblance of disbelief.

Found object puppets act out universal themes

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C. Kennedy’s “Jug-Baby” performance. Next performance: Nov. 14, 2014 at Yell Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.

For 90 minutes, Kennedy spins a nonstop weird tale of a once perfectly formed baby, which grows 18 years in a jug until its poor parent-puppets smash the jug to free their freakish offspring in the hopes that it could be happy in a circus. The couple, however, get a better offer for the unshaped mass of protoplasm–a bag of money from their slimy landlord, “Boss-Man”.

Thus begins the bizarre saga of Jug-Baby, whose creator reports: “Truth is icky and painful.”

The premiere of the latest version of “Jug-Baby: An Autobiography,” on Nov. 2 at The Rotunda on Walnut Street near 40th, was eight years in the making. The unique tale springs from Kennedy’s wild imagination, with musings about what it means to be male, female, or sexless, be unable to express feelings, amidst emphasis on body parts, bodily functions, love objects, and meanies who torment the star of her psyche.

Performance
C. Kennedy’s “Jug-Baby” performance. Next performance Nov. 14, 2014 at Yell Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.

Founder of Transitions Theatre, Kennedy adapted the puppet play from her handmade 90-page book about the adventures of Jug-Baby and created the stage set with chicken wire, cardboard, and a roll of painted sheets, which change the backdrop. She fashioned the puppets from found objects.

The evil Boss-Man, whose passion is eating the most expensive cat food in the world from a martini glass, introduces Jug-Baby to his beautiful “Young Bimbo Wife,” who is repulsed that Jug-Baby can’t dance.

So Boss-Man throws Jug-Baby behind the green door of room 323C of the neon pink whorehouse, where it becomes “The most famous prostitute in the world,” engaging in X-rated activities involving smells, orifices, friendly sinks, and unusual lovers.

Jug-Baby must deal with such eternal questions as a lover whining, “Why won’t you be what I want you to be?”

Fitting the mold versus finding the self

Performance
C. Kennedy’s “Jug-Baby” performance. Next performance: Nov. 14, 2014 at Yell Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.

But soon Jug-Baby learns it can be anyone–The Perfect Man or The Perfect Woman–as long as there’s an available mold. As Perfect Man, he finds the Perfect Job–in sales. As Perfect Woman, she works as a waitress, heating “Hot Pockets”. You would think this was the glorious end of Jug-Baby’s fairytale existence, but these new lives come with “clothes, bank accounts, lovers, plants, food, dust”–and boredom.

Jug-Baby finds “no time to be Jug-Baby.”

SPOILER ALERT: Thus, leads to a dramatic climax.

The production was enhanced with a live score by Upholstery, featuring musicians Jeremy Prout and Dorie Byrne, animations by Sean McPhee and Nora Humpage, and delightful sound effects by Holly Sue Allen. Admission is up to $10, or whatever you can pay.  The handmade book, Jug-Baby: An Autobiography, sells for $15 at the door of performances.

Performance
C. Kennedy’s “Jug-Baby” performance. Next performance: Nov. 14, 2014 at Yell Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.

One more production of “Jug-Baby: An Autobiography” will be performed at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14 at Yell Gallery, at 2111 E. Susquehanna in the Fishtown section. Later this month, “Jug-Baby” will open on Nov. 17 in Ashville, N.C. and on Nov. 19-23 at the New Orleans Fringe Festival.

Kitty Caparella worked at the Daily News for 38 years, with one year in Camden at the Courier Post. She graduated from PAFA in printmaking in 2003, which, she says, was her salvation when covering the Philadelphia mob. See her art at her website kittycaparella.com.

Tags

arts & culture, c. kennedy, jug baby: an autobiography, philadelphia, the rotunda

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