by Christian Carvajal for OLY ARTS
Jerry Berebitsky is the technical director for performing and media arts at The Evergreen State College. He’s also filled similar roles at Olympia Waldorf School and South Puget Sound Community College. Yet, when Berebitsky makes appearances at each Procession of the Species, it’s his animal sidekicks that really draw the eye. That’s because he’s the team lead responsible for a flock of over 30 Procession peacocks, including a 24-foot-high puppet made of bird netting, burlap and fabric scraps over a frame of metal and plastic irrigation pipe.
Soon after they moved from Colorado to Olympia about a decade ago, Berebitsky and his growing family were recruited to play beavers in the Procession. That inspired him to build a pink elephant, then craft the large peacock and oversee a full ostentation of support characters.
“The peacock is quite easy to store,” noted Berebitsky. “It breaks down into relatively small pieces. The giant tail folds up into one nice, long package.” He was proud of that puppet’s motion and colorful appearance, but this year he intends to add a creation with a much wider range of articulated motions. “The legs won’t just move down the street. It’ll have another form of movement,” he teased.
He recalls an Indiana production, The Wiz, for which he designed a great and powerful wizard puppet. “This was big. That piece had the strongest six seconds I had ever achieved on stage. It was 18 feet tall and 30 feet across … and it went four rows into the audience.” The wizard was performed by a crew working in military precision. Later “he” led a parade and was displayed twice in the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
It’s easy to think of Procession creatures as emissaries from arts-minded organizations, but Berebitsky stresses that, in his mind, those puppets represent nothing more than earth’s beautiful, threatened, irreplaceable animal populations.
WHAT Jerry Berebitsky-led Puppet Creations
WHERE Procession of the Species,
From Jefferson St. and Legion Way to Water St. and Capitol Way, Olympia
WHEN 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28
HOW MUCH Free