Kolejka is a heart-warming, grown-up puppet show, inspired by the Polish board game of the same name.  

In Kolejka, Babushka steals and makes her way to the front of bread-lines by any means necessary. The audience gets the sense that she’s looking for something, to fill a missing piece in her life.

star star theatre and The Troika Collective have jointly crafted a story about loneliness and human connections, featuring a combination of rod and shadow puppets, clotheslines, physical theatre, and rockin’ gypsy punk.

Randi Edmundson talked with The Peak about the inspiration, creative process, and bringing puppetry to Vancouver.

The Peak: What was the inspiration behind Kolejka?

Randi Edmundson: It was based on a Polish board game. In the game, you stand in bread-lines and try to complete a shopping list. You can thwart your fellow players, keep them from achieving what they’re doing, and try to get ahead yourself. It was intended to educate, remind people about communism in Poland, but it’s also really fun — kind of an interesting combination. In the show, you’ll see some bread-lines, waiting, and tricking each other to get ahead, but it’s taken a bit of a departure to something a little more narrative.

P: Can you explain the creative process in bringing this to life?  

RE: One of the cool things is that basically everyone has been in the rehearsals, contributing to the story development and throwing ideas for design elements. We spent a lot of the early rehearsals playing with the stuff we thought we wanted. It’s neat, because a bunch of the imagery we came up with, within the first couple of days, has been feeding the creation of the story.

P: Are there other puppets or human characters besides Babushka?

RE: We gave Babushka a little dog companion, Laeika — sort of modelled after the Russia dog sent to space. We added an old man, as a counterpart, we’re calling him Sergei.

We use hats, glasses, things like that, as puppets themselves in a way, to throw these side-community characters in the mix. The puppeteers take on different human characters and work pretty physically on stage to embody them.

P: What does star star theatre ultimately hope to achieve through telling this story?

RE: One of our main interests is to promote and encourage the development of puppetry in Vancouver. It’s interesting that a city as big and culturally active as Vancouver doesn’t have more puppetry, so we’re excited to bring that on one level to Vancouver.

In terms of the story, living behind the iron curtain, sometimes you couldn’t get your hands on things you needed, things as basic as toilet paper. What’s exciting is that the characters still manage to live on, to love, and to connect with one another, no matter how challenging it is to have this basic necessity that they are looking for. We all have challenges in our lives and finding connection within that, I think it’s something we understand.

Kolejka will perform at The Cultch, from May 11–22.