Darkest secrets: Shadow puppet play unveils the hidden cemetery

Darkest secrets: Shadow puppet play unveils the hidden cemetery

She’s taking her secrets to the graves.

A spooky puppet show in Williamsburg will explore the shadowy after-hours world of Green-Wood Cemetery. “Secrets of Green-Wood,” debuting at the Brick Theater on Jan. 30, follows a woman who journeys through the gravestones in hopes of laying her troubles to rest, but the deeper she travels into the necropolis, the bigger her problems become, according to the show’s creator.

“The main character is kind of grappling with personal demons, she goes to the graveyard to put in a secret,” said Sarah Krasnow, who lives in Ditmas Park. “It’s kind of cathartic, but she ends up getting lost and stuck in the graveyard and things kind of get worse. She has an even worse secret by the time she leaves.”

The 25-minute show was inspired by a real-life art project titled “Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery.” French artist Sophie Calle installed an obelisk in the historic graveyard in 2017, where visitors can write down their secrets and slip them inside. Calle plans to return annually over the next 25 years to exhume and burn the buried secrets.

Krasnow, who first saw Calle’s work in France, researched the history of the artist and the boneyard while working on her script.

“After that point I did more research on the cemetery itself, I don’t think I had ever been there before that,” Krasnow said.

Krasnow will work with another puppeteer, Stephanie Sleeper, to manipulate figures on a pair of projectors during the play, while her husband, James Ilgenfritz, performs music that he composed for the show.

The show will use dozens of elaborate puppets, created with the help of designers and artists Shannon Iriarte, Virginia Wang, and Emma Wiseman, said Krasnow. The puppets, made of black cardstock, were built with the help of a special printer that could spit out the most intricate details, she said.

“Shannon would draw the puppet or whatever character she wanted — send it to a printer called a Cricket and cut out really intricate patterns,” Krasnow said. “One piece of scenery is a gothic-style gate at Green-Wood, it’s very complicated with little spikes coming out.”

The puppet show will appear on a double-bill with the comedy “Sexless Cocaine Saturday,” as part of the Exponential Festival of new plays.

“Secrets of Green-Wood” at the Brick (579 Metropolitan Ave. between Lorimer Street and Union Avenue in Williamsburg, www.theexponentialfestival.org). Jan. 30–Feb. 2 at 8 pm. $20.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Here they lie: The shadow-puppet show “Secrets of Green-Wood” will debut at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg on Jan. 30.
Sarah Krasnow