Can your hand become a man?

Unique “body puppetry” of Teatro Hugo & Ines at Edison Theatre Jan. 16-17

Puppetry? Not just for kids anymore.

Teatro Hugo & Ines — a.k.a. Hugo Suarez and Ines Pasic — create a world of unlimited, cartoon-like possibility, enlisting elements of puppetry, mime and dance to transform hands and feet, elbows, knees and bellybuttons into a colorful parade of extraordinary, oddball characters.

Hugo & InezTeatro Hugo & Ines in *Short Stories*
Teatro Hugo & Ines in *Short Stories*

In January, Washington University’s Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series will present the Lima, Peru-based couple in Short Stories, a collection of whimsical vignettes illustrating the poetic moments of everyday life.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 16 and 17. Tickets are $28 for the general public; $23 for seniors and students; and $14 for Washington University students and children under 12. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets For more information, call (314) 935-6543.

In addition, Edison Theatre will present an all-ages matinee performance as part of the ovations! for young people series at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 17. Tickets are $7. A special Friday morning performance for area students will be sponsored in partnership with Young Audiences of St. Louis.

In Short Stories, which The Washington Post describes as “a vaudeville on the body,” Hugo & Ines employ a small stable of props to execute a series of bafflingly original metamorphoses. A nose strapped to a foot becomes a thoughtful, imploring clown. Fingers crumple and expand to form gnarled, Elmer Fudd- and Homer Simpson-like faces. A bit of lipstick, strategically applied to Pasic’s bellybutton, creates a talkative society matron.

The Los Angeles Times calls Short Stories an “Unfailingly whimsical theatre-of-marvels,” adding that Hugo & Ines are “both superbly in tune with a sense of magical transformation that makes their partnership one of the wonders of the age.” The Chicago Reader concurs, calling Teatro Hugo & Ines “Delightful, all-ages entertainment. Not since Marcel Marceau in his heyday have I been so entranced by an evening of wordless entertainment.”

Suarez, a native of Lima, and Pasic, born in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, first crossed paths in Italy, where Suarez was performing mime on the streets. Pasic, who had trained as a pianist at the Sarajevo Conservatory, began studying with him and quickly discovered that dexterity developed on the keyboard also proved useful in mastering pantomime.

The pair founded Teatro Hugo & Ines in 1986 and premiered their first production, Return to Darkness, the following year. They have since performed at major festivals throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. Their Adventures of Ginocchio, presented as part of the 1994 Jim Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater in New York, was one of the first productions to travel as part of the Henson Festival’s national On Tour program.

Short Stories was presented to sold-out crowds at the 1998 and 2000 Henson festivals, with additional engagements at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in New York, the Festival of Art & Ideas in New Haven, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Ordway in St. Paul and Chicago’s international Puppetropolis festival, among others. Suarez and Pasic also have filmed segments for the nationally broadcast PBS series Between the Lions.

Edison Theatre’s OVATIONS! Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis. Focusing on presentations that are interdisciplinary, multicultural and/or experimental, Edison Theatre presents work intended to challenge, educate and inspire.

Edison Theatre programs are supported by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis.