Wordless ‘Skink’ brings imagination to life in Pittsburgh stop |
Theater & Arts

Wordless ‘Skink’ brings imagination to life in Pittsburgh stop

'Skink' uses costumes, props, acrobatics, dance and comedy to tell a story without words.
'Skink' uses costumes, props, acrobatics, dance and comedy to tell a story without words.
'Skink' uses costumes, props, acrobatics, dance and comedy to tell a story without words.

No doubt about it: “Skink” is a strange play and hard to explain, admits the artistic director of the show that will play at several Pittsburgh-area locations this week.

The show, part of the Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater annual series, uses no dialogue, but tells its story through dance and movement of a grumpy old man who discovers his imagination.

Characters — namely the Skink, a polka-dotted, lizardlike creature that changes colors — help the old curmudgeon along, as they inspire him to believe in magic and the world of make-believe. Meanwhile, the audience is uncertain whether the Skink is even real or a figment of the man’s imagination.

Nonetheless, the Skink serves its purpose by inspiring the man, says Brian Sanders, artistic director of the Philadelphia-based theater company Junk.

Telling a story this way is difficult, but the show is still plot-driven and encourages the imagination, and different people may see different things with it, Sanders says.

“We don’t say a gun goes off, but a gun goes off,” he says, using an analogy to describe the wordless story.

“I don’t worry about telling stories so much as portraying thoughts and feelings, and let children’s imagination works for themselves,” he says. “There isn’t a very specific story … it’s more like a sensitive unfolding of someone’s journey.”

“Skink” involves “channeling the ideas of the imagination,” Sanders says.

The play is made up of a series of fast-paced vignettes, with different characters in each of the pieces, and it involves a lot of dynamic movement, theatrics, acrobatics and props. And, driving the action is the fun music soundtrack, Sanders says.

“The music is all very dynamic and lively — an eclectic mix of classical, pop music and dance music,” he says.

No matter what age you are, something about this peculiar show is bound to charm you, Sanders says.

“Everyone responds to something in the show,” he says. “I think it’s the characters and the imagery behind the characters.

“Adults respond to it as interestingly as children do,” Sanders says.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at [email protected] or 412-320-7824.

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