Project: Made in China

A dark musical comedy featuring seven puppeteers, 30 puppets, masks and animated video, Made in China examines the complicated relationship between the U.S and China through the story of an eccentric middle-aged American woman and her unlikely relationship with her Chinese ex-pat neighbor. Inspired by the true event of a Chinese labor camp worker’s written “cry for help” that an American woman found in her Kmart Halloween decorations, Made in China will delve into questions of greed, capitalism, ethical manufacturing, secrecy, paranoia, and perceived or projected realities. Through the relationship that develops between the two main characters, the piece will confront our own complicity in today’s global network of supply and demand.

Awardee: Gabrielle Brechner

Performing Arts, 2013

Gabrielle Brechner is a native New Yorker who was literally raised in a theatre, where she spent the first 18 years of her life working every post in the Off-Off Broadway establishment. In 1998 Ms. Brechner graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance and a B.A. in English Literature. A sometimes dramaturg and former actress, she has studied at Circle in the Square Theatre, NYC and the Chautauqua Institution. As a producer, her credits span over 1500 live concert events, theatre and film, including concerts by artists ranging from Aretha Franklin to Peter Frampton to Mos Def, the 2008 NYC run of Stitching at the Wild Project (Associate Producer) and the short film Taken to the Lowlands (Executive Producer). Gabrielle was a 2007-9 fellow in the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists. Gabrielle has helped to create, produce and run the technical aspects for all of Wakka Wakka Productions’ past works and is the lead producer for the company.

Awardee: Kirjan Waage

Performing Arts, 2013

Kirjan Waage was born in Haugesund, Norway. He graduated from the University of Bologna, Italy where he studied puppet theatre under Professor Remo Melloni and received a diploma from University of Bologna’s Theatre School CIMES. He then moved to Paris to complete the two year program and the Laboratory of Experimental Movement (LEM) at Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq. While in Paris, he launched his own series of stuffed animals called Aminols, later leading into the creation of a series of puppets. Kirjan toured Ireland and France with the French Theatre Company La Filante in 2000.   In 2001 he joined The Shakespeare Players along with fellow Wakka Wakka members to play Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet. The production played in London and Lebanon at the Al Bustan Arts Festival. Kirjan has created, performed in, designed and constructed the puppets for all of Wakka Wakka Productions past works. Kirjan is also a published cartoonist with Jippi Comics, and recently launched his first comic book entitled "Kjaele".

Awardee: Gwendolyn Warnock

Performing Arts, 2013

Gwendolyn Warnock long before she founded Wakka Wakka Productions, graduated from Northwestern University, (Performance Studies) and from the two year program at Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. She performed in Mary Zimmerman’s production of The Magic Flute, and in Street Signs production of the Perjured City by Helene Cixous. She also trained on the trapeze at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts and the Actors Gymnasium in Chicago. She has used her aerial skills in several productions including Romeo and Juliet, directed by Daniel Kramer, as Juliet (London, Beirut) and in Acts of Love as Salman Rushdie, which she adapted and directed. She also starred in the short film The Birdman directed by Italian filmmaker Raffaele Passerini. Gwendolyn has created, performed in, designed costumes and written original music for all of Wakka Wakka Productions past works.

Collab: Wakka Wakka Productions

Wakka Wakka Productions, Inc. is an innovative, award-winning visual company led by Gabrielle Brechner, Kirjan Waage and Gwendolyn Warnock. The New York-based company has created and produced eight original works of theater, which have toured extensively through the U.S. and abroad. Wakka Wakka Productions have been artists in residence at the Princeton University Atelier, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center and Nordland Visual Theatre, and guest artists at The Eugene O’Neill Center for the Arts National Puppetry Conference. Warnock and Waage were nominated for a 2011 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play for Baby Universe: A Puppet Odyssey, and the company received a 2013 Drama Desk Special Citation for their play SAGA. Their new project, Made in China, will be workshopped at the National Puppetry Center in Atlanta, GA.