Roanoke College

In the Puppeteer's Wake

SALEM, Va.- "In the Puppeteer's Wake," a searing true account of Jewish "boat people" during the early years of World War II, will be presented at Roanoke College Tuesday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Olin Theater. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Tickets are free to the Roanoke College community. To order tickets, please call the Olin Box Office, Monday through Friday, 1-4 p.m. at (540) 375-2333 or by calling the Colket Center Information Desk at 378-5125.

"In the Puppeteer's Wake" tells of the harrowing escape by the performer's father, "Max," from Nazi Europe on the illegal ship "Katina" and of his mother, who followed him by sea a year later. It recounts their experiences of desperation and heroism, sabotage and deception - and of a stricken man who created a marionette play out of a grisly fairy tale. Now Claudia Stevens, a concert pianist, scholar and recording artist, recreates scenes from this play in which she "starred" as a child, using the original marionettes and performing to keyboard and tape accompaniments. Her characterizations and stirring vocals evoke deep human interconnections over time and distance - and of the questions that endure. All incidents depicted in the piece are entirely factual.

This narrative, created in 2000 by Stevens for her one-woman performance and a sequel to "A Table Before Me," her mother's story, is Stevens' major new performance piece incorporating marionette artistry with extraordinary staging and use of the piano. "In the Puppeteer's Wake" officially premiered in a two-week run at the Baltimore Theater Project in January, 2002. The Baltimore Sun called it "moving . . . unearthing unexpected truths . . . a haunting journey;" The Baltimore City Paper praised Stevens' "beautifully clear voice," described the work as "vivid, mesmerizing, creatively innovative . . . powerful stuff."

In less than 12 years, Stevens has created a unique body of works - several produced by Public Television and National Public Radio (NPR Playhouse), as well as being performed at major venues nationwide.

A native of California, Stevens holds degrees from Vassar College, the University of California at Berkeley and Boston University and has held academic positions at Williams College and the College of William and Mary. As a pianist, she appeared in concert at Carnegie Recital Hall, among other national venues, and was the featured artist on several "Performance Today on NPR" broadcasts. As an interdisciplinary artist, she is the recipient of grants from the International Theater Institute, 10 touring and project grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, numerous artist residencies including the MacDowell Colony, and a National Endowment for the Arts "New Forms" grant, among others.

This event is sponsored by the Office of Community Programs and Special Events and the Office of Multicultural Affairs and is funded in part through a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.