Niki Ulehla, The Inferno (2011, 2013)

Niki-Ulehla-Puppet-VirgilDuring a 2011 residency at Recology SF, San Francisco puppeteer Niki Ulehla began a multiple-phase project to dramatize Dante’s Inferno with her handmade puppets. The first performance, featuring puppets crafted out of discarded materials from the Recology Public Disposal Area, staged the first seven cantos of the poem. Video of the Recology performance of the first seven cantos can be seen here.

This performance was followed by a second, at the Sanchez Art Center (Pacifica) in February-March 2013, in which a new set of puppets embark on the second part of the journey, Cantos 8-17. Sanchez Art Center describes the second performance as follows: “[Ulehla] combines traditional carved wooden marionettes with found object based ‘toys’ to create the characters inhabiting the hell described by Dante. […] The performance will begin with the two travelers, Dante and Virgil, crossing the river Styx. They will pass through the fifth circle of Anger, the sixth of the Heretics and the seventh of Violence. This portion of their journey will end riding away on Geryon, the beast of Fraud.”    —Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA