Hello Dedicated Puppet Showplace Readership!
My name is Dan Friedman, and I’m the artistic intern here at Puppet Showplace Theater for the summer. I'm a Philosophy major at Johns Hopkins, but I've always loved theatre and wanted to learn a little more about puppetry this summer. I've been at PST for two months now, and I've learned so much.
Among all the fun things I’ve been doing, one of my favorite projects thus far has been working with Resident Artist, Brad Shur, in developing his newest work Cardboard Explosion.
The show is especially exciting because it’s completely interactive, the audience gets to design the characters and determine where the story goes. The show is entirely created from cardboard which we hope in turn will inspire children and families to devise their own stories from everyday household materials.
Brad's been trying the show out at a lot of fairs and festivals around New England, in preparation for a main stage debut in January, and I was lucky enough to join him in visiting a Boston public school to present the show to first graders. Walking in the classroom was exciting enough to begin with --working with young audiences that bring so much energy and enthusiasm to every performance is hands down the best part of my job-- and the students had no idea what was in store for them.
I learned a lot from watching the kids enjoy the show that day. Cardboard Explosion, is entirely produced and performed with everyday materials found around the house; so it makes puppetry and theatre accessible to anyone with a little bit of cardboard, a few glue sticks, markers and a bit of imagination. Watching the kids fall in love with Cardboard Explosion was like nothing I’d ever seen before. To have an audience help create their own story —this morning it was a story about being kind to your siblings— meant that the kids were incredibly engaged and focused; they felt even more connected to the story because it was their puppets, their characters up there persevering through various trials and tribulations.
I think that has been the biggest takeaway of my time here at PST. Puppetry, and theatre at large, does not inherently require you to spend hundreds on orchestra level seats, (or for the broke college student, spend hours on-line at the discount ticket booth in Times Square). With puppets (especially cardboard puppets) you can capture the wonderment of any Broadway production, and bring it home with you. That seems to me to be one of the larger goals of Cardboard Explosion as well, to inspire all ages to create their own stories, because you don't need a fancy stage or Hollywood budget to do so.
Stay tuned for updates from me as I finish up my summer here!