Brúðuheimarʼs Puppetry Masters
Dimmed lights slowly turn on as a skilled puppeteer picks up several small figures and a story unfolds. Background scenery, made of colourful felt, changes with the seasons of a play which tells the parable of a lazy woman who bargains with a troll to work for her for free. Textured with clever lighting and realistic sound effects produced by the puppeteer, Brúðuheimarʼs plays ignite the imaginations of young and old. Parents sit hushed with entranced toddlers, who stay still for almost an hour mesmerised by the tiny figures. “We want to encourage play, not only in children but in adults who are normally discouraged from playing,” explains Hildur, director of the museum, “Puppetry is another kind of storytelling that we are trying to revive at a time when speed often trumps artistry.”
Though Brúðuheimar only opened last year, it has received much attention, mainly because of Bernd Ogrodnikʼs lifelong mission to reinvigorate puppetry. Bernd is a classical pianist who taught himself woodworking and began puppeteering over twenty years ago. His theatrical works have gained international recognition and redefined puppetry by pushing the limitations of the art form. Brúðuheimar compiles all the passion and previous work of Bernd in houses formerly used as a trading post and almost turned into harbour-side apartments in 2003. Slowing down
is encouraged at Brúðuheimar, where children can retreat upstairs to dress up in costumes and act out their own play or build with wooden blocks made at Brúðuheimarʼs workshop.
Parents and adults also have their chance to enjoy quiet moments in a vegetarian café, where the food is made from scratch and most ingredients are organic. Visitors of any age can exercise their imaginations with shadow puppetry and a play area demonstrating Berndʼs methods for creating his characters on stage. Surprisingly, some of the most effective performances involve no more than hands and small accessories like shoes or goggly eyes that fit between fingers. Brúðuheimarʼs staff can guide visitors through the exhibits to give a better idea of the work behind the scenes. “We want people to experience something closer to theatre. This is not something that you can read, but something you need to try for yourself,” says Hildur, who has witnessed many adult visitors light up when they perform small shows with the puppets provided. Brúðuheimar is open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm in the summer, but has more flexibility for groups. Plays are run on most Sundays at 2:00 pm and cost 2000 ISK.
Skúlagata 17 • 310 Borgarnes
+354 530 5000