Beginner's Guide to Kyle Loven Nov 5, 2012

by Heidi

Kyle Loven is coming to On the Board's Studio Theater December 5-9 where he will take us on a trip into the world of Loss Machine. Loven's influences include Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal and his work has been compared to the films of Jan Svankmajer, the Czech surrealist film maker . . . I can barely begin to imagine how quirky, endearing, and imaginative this performance will be.  Here is a little background on Loven to get you ready for Loss Machine.   

1. In scouring the internet to learn about Kyle Loven, I discovered exactly zero reviews are written about him without describing his work as ‘magical’.  Loven is a magician of sorts—he is a theater artist who uses masks, projections, and puppets to transform the theater—engaging the audience’s imagination and transporting them to a space beyond the stage.  Kyle explains in an interview with Seattle Magazine, “For me, there is an intriguing overlap between the use of puppets and the idea of magic. As audience members, we suspend our disbelief to imagine that this thing before us is alive and moving on its own.” Check out this clip from his 2011 piece When You Point at the Moon to see him bring the simplest puppet robustly alive.

2. In 2009 and 2011, Kyle received seed grants from the Jim Henson Foundation for his pieces my dear Lewis and Blink.  In 2010, only a year after he arrived in Seattle and started making his own work, Kyle was short listed for a Genius Award by The Stranger and in 2011 he received a Spotlight Award from Seattle Magazine.  

3. Though often described by others as a puppeteer, Kyle says he has a hard time accurately defining his work.  He most often refers to it as ‘visual storytelling’—but even then, he says, he finds his work constantly outgrowing the definitions he gives it.  He has a shared love of visual art and theater, which found a happy symbiosis in his productions; he often shapes stories around strong images and he builds all of his puppets and marionettes.  When Kyle enrolled in Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he had the intention of becoming an art teacher, but graduated in 2006 with a degree in theater.  He then apprenticed for three and a half years with Open Eye Figure Theater, a small theater company in Minneapolis that specializes in projection, puppetry, and figure driven work, which is where he learned much of his theater craft. 


4. Kyle was inspired at a young age by the ‘twisted magic’ of Grimm’s fairy tales and Jim Henson’s darker films, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.  He has remained interested in the slightly sinister but fantastic: his recent pieces are influenced by spiritual, magical or mythic sources.  His first, full length solo, my dear Lewis, was a fragmented dreamscape of the memories and reflections of a man about to die.  In his 2010 production, Crandal’s Bag, a piece about magic and religion, his character Crandal is a magician and a sin-eater who tells his story through the manipulation of discarded objects.  In When You Point at the Moon, a piece Loven developed for the 2011 North West New Works festival, Loven explores the Eastern myth that warns: if you point at the moon, it will cut off your ears.   Check out an interview of him talking about the inspiration for his piece, Crandal’s Bag here:


5. One of Kyle's interests is transformation—both of objects and the theater space.  In Loss Machine, Kyle is working on transformation in the most complicated iteration he has attempted.  He made a ‘machine’, which, in a Rube Goldberge-esque manner, tells a story through its complicated, interconnected functions.  The machine builds a narrative by juxtaposing the small detailed spaces and inhabitants of the machine against the machine as a shape-shifting gestalt.  It’s going to be a detailed driven, imaginative, and enchanting performance.