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Puppets guide audience through "Odyssey in the Land of Shadows"

Staff Writer

The five stages of grief are explored with puppets — finger puppets, hand puppets, body puppets — in “Odyssey in the Land of Shadows.”

“I think the visual part of it has enough beauty to make the topic … “ playwright and director Jean Minuchin says, her voice trailing off as she considers her words. “I don’t want it to be a heavy experience.”

Poetry and movement are also featured in the show taking place 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov.23  and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov.24  in the gallery and performance space World and Eye Arts Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village.

“The genesis was a variety of things,” says Minuchin, a sculptor and performer who teaches art in the Miami-Dade County school system. “I am middle-aged, so I’ve experienced some death of people I am close to, friends passing away. And I also have some health concerns that are not immediately threatening. All of that made me think about questions of mortality. And it got me started thinking about what it’s all about, and why are we here, and how do we experience that middle ground between life and death. So I started playing with that as an idea. I started working with shadows and shadow play as a way of communicating the subconscious and the spirit world and world memory and heritage. That was the beginning.”

Minuchin opened up World and Eye in 2010. Over the next few years, she expanded the ideas in “Odyssey in the Land of Shadows” with finger, hand and body puppets.

“And then, actors came into the mix, as well as storytellers,” Minuchin says. “We had the launch of the World and Eye Ensemble [during that time], and the group added all kinds of things to it. They bring their own selves into it.”

The framework is psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model in which a person moves through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance when faced with loss.

“I want [the audience] to see something that really touches them and … that people come to a place where it’s less frightening,” Minuchin says.

“Odyssey in the Land of Shadows” will appear at World and Eye Arts Center, 109 NW Fifth St., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $15 ($10 for World and Eye members). Call 954-540-9897 or go to

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