Wednesday, 3 May 2017

May's Puppet of the Month - Sharik from 'A Dog's Heart'

In rehearsals, Amsterdam

Hi Sharik. You have an unusual name - where does it come from? 

You know that I am Russian? Alexander Raskatov based his opera on Bulgakov's novel The Heart of A Dog. In Russia a pure-breed is called 'Sharik'. I am a stray, so it is a little ironic. 

The novel itself is very satirical, no? 

Ah, yes. There is much debate over the novel's meaning, and the target of it's satire. Maybe it is a comment on how 'base' people can acquire power. Or maybe the Soviet state attempting to change people. Or eugenics. 

You go through quite a few transformations I understand? 

Sketch by Nick Barnes
Yes. The story is that a Soviet doctor wants to be the first to transform an animal into a human. So he sews the testicles and pituitary gland of a dead drunk onto the dog, and this begins the transformation. For most of the show I am onstage with my puppeteers, and then we have an 'interim' human-headed dog puppet before a male actor takes the part of my fully-transformed human self for the second half. 
Final mock up

What happens to the human version of you? 

He is a man but with the mentality of a dog. So the IQ is lower. He is a very sexed creature. He still chases cats! Yet, he begins a revolutionary movement, rousing the workers to overthrow the wealthy. And so the doctor must intervene and turn him back to a dog. 

You live in Amsterdam? 

Yes. I was made in the Netherlands by Sindy Buissink (overseen by Nick Barnes, my designer)for the rehearsals and premiere of A Dog's Heart at the DNO in 2010. Later I traveled to ENO (London), La Scala (Milan), Opéra Nouvel (Lyon) and now back to the DNO for the revival that is currently playing. 

And what is next for you? 

I will be on display at entrance to the 'Casa Romana' exhibit at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. You can see me there from 23 May.

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