An alchemical puppet operetta

Ambergris is the story of Pinocchio in the belly of the whale.

Pinocchio is a classic story about transformation. Nowhere is this more evident than in the episode in which Pinocchio finds himself in the belly of the whale, a pivotal moment in the tale in which the puppet is confronted with his maker and his own essence. It is inside the belly of this great whale the puppet begins his process of individuation before being spat out again into the world as a real boy.

Ambergris tells the tale about the production of this rare substance through a blending together great literary characters- all of whom have been swallowed by a whale. Ambergris has a magical ability to bind disparate smells harmoniously. It is an odour that is inexplicable to anything else.

Appearing in the tale are….

Jonah, the biblical character whom was swallowed by a whale for his disobediance, then spat out again thanks to his re-found faith.

Pinocchio, who threw himself into the mouth of the whale in search of his maker, and upon being reunited with his father, brewed a sneezing powder and was as well ejected from the beast.

Captain Ahab, in his obsession over his hunt for Moby Dick, is taken under by the mythical monster, refusing to let go.

We find these three characters together in a kind of rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub, The prophet, the puppet, the pirate whale hunter-fused together floating on the sea in a lump of ambergris.

Ambergris is set inside a giant perfume laboratory.

Behind the doors is a charlatan perfumer who is obsessed with finding the perfect lump of ambergris in order to complete his great olfactory masterpiece.

The inside of this perfume laboratory resembles the digestive interior of a whale.

The Quack perfumer disects lumps of ambergris before considering their inclusion into his formula for the perfect smell.

Ambergris charters the process of a base substance into its purest form; from shit to gold, whilst following the psychological purification of our puppet hero.

Through its musical structure, Ambergris mixes play of string, shadow, hand and rod puppets, masks, and live perfume synthesis into an olfactory puppet operetta about being and its scents.

Direction, scénography, puppets: Patrick Sims
Masks, puppets: Joséphine Biereye
Costumes: Camille Lamy
Set construction and mechanics: Richard Penny, Nicolas Hubert
Sound creation, designer: Karine Dumont
Lighting creation: Sophie Barraud, Jean Grison
Stage manager: Florent Klein
Photos: Mickael Titrent

With: Karine Dumont, Patrick Sims, Nicolas Hubert, Richard Penny

Production / Co-production :
Openning the 22, 23 and 24 November 2018 in TJP of Strasbourg (CDN) and in Mini Théâtre of Payerne
Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes de Charleville 2019
Producer : Les Antliaclastes
Co-producers : TJP de Strasbourg / CDN – Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes de Charleville.