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With the Kids

'Out of Water' and into a child's fantasy

August 12, 2004|Lynne Heffley

Walking a tightrope, jumping on stilts and juggling fire, sabers and steel "poison" balls: They're all featured in circus and theater artist Nathan Stein's one-man tour de force, "A Fisherman Out of Water."

The show, playing Saturday as part of the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre's Big!World!Fun! eclectic family arts matinee series, is a multi-character combination of comedy, fable and circus artistry.

"It's not storytelling," Stein says, "it's story showing."

In the story, a fisherman rescues his adopted, fish-hating son from the wily clutches of an evil juggler King bent on destroying the world.

Stein, co-founder of the Mums, the veteran New Vaudevillian theater-circus troupe, is a master juggler himself. He adapted this zany signature piece from a centuries-old Japanese folk tale "King of the Black Art" and wove in messages about parent-child relationships, good against evil and safeguarding the environment ("without getting top agitprop about it," he says).

Stein involves the audience too, from the time he enters on stilts with a fishing pole and "fishes" for a couple of volunteers to hold a jump rope. At the end, he asks kids to help him figure out the moral of the tale.

"Don't pollute" is the obvious one, Stein says, but answers vary.

"Some say it's 'Don't go off with strangers.' At one point I have a big confetti cannon that explodes, and one kid said the moral was 'Don't litter.' Another said it was 'Try fish, you might like it.' "

*

"A Fisherman Out of Water," John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 10 a.m. Saturday. Children 12 and younger, free; accompanying adults, $5. Reservations recommended. (323) 461-3673.

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