By Kassadi Moore
BANGOR, Maine – The Gracie Theater at Husson University hosted Puppeteer Brian Hull on Friday, Feb. 10th. Hull performed a multimedia show called “Kaytek the Wizard,” a play based off the book Janusz Korczak wrote in Polish.
Brian Hull is an illustrator, storyboard artist, animator and Emmy Award-winner from Nashville. Brian and fellow puppeteers perform 15 to 25 live shows per week in the children’s department at the Nashville Public Library. Hull has worked at the theme park Dollywood for three decades, and has written and directed shows there for 13 years.
Hull studied theatre at Shippensburg University, but was drawn to puppetry because of the freedom it brings. Hull recalled a scene, in a previous play, where the puppet flew off the stage and above the audience. Hull said if that same production was done with actors, the cost would be much higher, and the scene would be much more dangerous. Hull adapted his puppetry shows to involve projections with animations. This allows him to have even more freedom with his shows. “Part of the fun is figuring it out; coming up with this crazy idea, and then making it work,” said Hull. Hull said he likes performances such as “Kaytek the Wizard,” because it combines acting, singing, musical theater, puppets and interacting with the projections.
“I saw that he was working on this show, and I said, ‘Wow, this would really be interesting to bring here. I love its connection with Harry Potter, and I’m also trying to introduce a children’s show once a year here,” said Executive Director of the Gracie Theater Jeri Misler.
Hull adapted “Kaytek the Wizard” into a play after discovering the book and Janusz Korczak’s story. Korczak was born in Warsaw. He studied medicine and had a background in literature, but decided to open a Jewish orphanage in 1912, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. “He asked [the orphans], ‘What do you want to be when you grow up,’ and one boy said, ‘I want to be a wizard.’ And all the other boys laughed at him, and he said, ‘Well you asked, well I’ll probably be a judge, like my father, but you asked what I want to be. And that’s believed to be the thing that caused him to write these stories,” said Hull. Korczak would write stories based on things the children would say, and then he would alter them based on the children’s reaction to hearing the stories. Korczak published these stories in a children’s magazine. These stories were then compiled into the unfinished book, “Kaytek the Wizard.”
The Nazis took Korczak and the children in his orphanage to the death camp Treblinka. “Though he was offered sanctuary by the Polish underground, he chose to go with his more than 190 orphaned children when they were transported to Treblinka. He was killed together with the children when they arrived at the death camp on Aug. 7, 1942,” said JTA of forward.com.
Hull said he wants “Kaytek the Wizard” to educate people about Janusz Korczak. “I can tell you all sorts of stuff about the Kardashians, and whatever celebrity this or that that fills our faces everyday. How do we not know about him,” said Hull.