“Skadindi Lapper” – between the children’s literature and theatre

Production team:

Author Dimitra Popova
Directed by Lubomira Kostova
Scenography and puppets Yulia Lacheva
Composer Emelina Gorcheva-Dimova
Poems by Yoana Mircheva
Vocal pedagogue and lighting design Gheorgi Georgiev – Antika
Dolls Nina Staneva, Elena Tsonkova and Emilia Kovacheva
Decor Svilen Nikolov, Marin Panovski and Zheni Lacheva
Mixing and mastering by Alex Nushev, ANP music productions
Participants: Dimitra Popova, Svetoslav Tiholov, Angel Kalev, Georgi-Manoel Dimitrov, Nia Yanakieva, Radost Kozuharova
Producer Kaloyan Nikolov, Rubekula Ltd

A new children’s book, a new fairy tale and a premiere puppet show – all this gathered under the title “Skadindi lapper”. Within two weeks, Dimitra Popova and director Lyubomira Kostova held two premieres – the first of the book “Skadindi Lapper” and the second of the children’s puppet show based on one of the fairy tales in the book. After a series of performances dedicated to Japanese culture, the “Senju” Theater Formation turns to Dimitra Popova’s children’s fairy tale. In addition to the author of the fairy tale and the dramatization, Dimitra Popova is also an actress in the show, and the text seems to be the fruit of her experience in puppet therapy.

The fairy tale can be said to follow the basic principles of magical tales, which Vladimir Propp extensively analyzes in his book Morphology of the Fairy Tale, and refers to the scheme of a main character who goes on a journey, meets a helper, and gets what he wants.

The plot presents the little turtle Polyo, who was born without a shell and because of his difference, has difficulty fitting into society. In turn, his grandfather sends him to the octopus Octos to make him a turtle-shell-library. For his journey, he receives from his grandfather the magic words skadindi lapper, which should give him courage for the adventure ahead, and a guide to animals in distress. In short: the main character manages to overcome difficulties along the way, find a new friend and get what he dreams of.

Apart from the short retelling, which in this case is mandatory for a new fairy tale, Lyubomira Kostova’s performance charms with likable characters and a well-paced narrative, but in the end somehow confuses the viewer as to what exactly the message is.

Although the turtle’s problem of fitting into society due to external scars and flaws is first emphasized, which leaves the impression that we will become part of a kind of therapeutic process, the focus eventually shifts to, generally speaking, the belief in dreams . Somehow it comes to the point that the main character, instead of discovering the path to self-acceptance, has to overcome his physical shortcomings and acquire what he wants in order to feel accepted and whole. In this way, the idea of ​​external change rather than that of integration comes to the fore. I highly appreciate the courage of Dimitra Popova to write a children’s book and I admire the director and the team for turning to a new author’s children’s literature. However, the story’s message seems torn between the idea that we shouldn’t give up on our dreams and that we need to physically change in order to accept and be accepted.

My personal issues with the message aside, the show is a successful synergy between live acting, puppetry and shadow theatre. In its new project, “Skadindi lapper”, Senju Theater Formation traditionally turns to the Eastern theater of shadows, embedding it as a key element in the performance. Along with the screen and puppets on sticks, set designer Yulia Lacheva relies on round shapes and bright colors, both for the puppets and in the design of the decor, which is strongly reminiscent of a children’s drawing. The scenography itself is a metal structure that, with each turn, transports the audience to a different environment, following the path of the main character. The combination of the drawing, the colors, the glowing paints and the movement of the scenography create the feeling of turning the pages of a children’s book, which is probably the idea of ​​the author and the director.

As for the work of the actors, it must be said that “Skadindi lapper” is performed by two casts. I attended the premiere of actors Dimitra Popova, Svetoslav Tikholov and Angel Kalev, and aside from the lack of pace and repetitiveness that are largely characteristic of premiere performances, the actors successfully manage the balance between leading the two puppet systems, changing the decor and entering into different roles.

I find a slight jolt in the final scene of the play, in which Polyo reunites with his grandfather after his long journey, having acquired the turtle-shell he so desired, sharing that the magic words “scadindi lapper” gave him the confidence to complete the journey. His grandfather, however, tells him that they mean nothing. I, as an adult, understand that this moment illustrates the idea that belief in the words is more important than the meaning itself, but it also raises questions about the meaning of the title and the tale as a whole.

Thus, I can say with confidence that “Skadindi lapper” gave me thoughts about the new author’s fairy tale on the theater stage. The courage to face the unknown is an important element of this daring experience, which will undoubtedly develop and improve with each performance in front of an audience. After all, it is essential that someone reminds us of the connection between the outer world and the inner world, and the impact of believing in our own dreams.

Funded by National Culture Fund.