Franco-Austrian choreographer and director Gisele Vienne is fascinated by puppets and brings a group of nine ventriloquists and their marionettes to the stage in her latest piece, "The Ventriloquists Convention." The play is part of the World Theatre Festival Shizuoka run by Shizuoka Performing Arts Center from April 28 to May 7 at venues in and around the city of Shizuoka.

Vienne views puppets among a panoply of human representations, from sculptures to robots, instilled with the power of metamorphosis: "They can be seen as objects, ghosts, dead, alive, present, absent, holy and profane." This ambiguity is at the heart of "The Ventriloquists Convention," a play inspired by Vienne's visit to a ventriloquist convention in Kentucky that attempts to capture some of the strange encounters between ventriloquists and their puppet partners.

The production was created in collaboration with actors from Puppentheater Halle in Germany and the script comes from North American novelist Dennis Cooper. Vienne describes the piece as "an unfolding of various layers of language — speech, gesture, emotion, thought and so on — and we create dialogue through these different linguistic layers."