Dear Puppet Showplace Family,
As a puppeteer with a political science background, I have been thinking a lot this year about art and civic responsibility.
How can we create experiences that are relevant and impactful to our community? How do we respond to matters of social concern? How do we overcome barriers to reach audiences whose lives will benefit from our work?
One thing is certain: we can't do it alone.
Over the past year, Puppet Showplace has partnered with organizations throughout Greater Boston. These collaborations have allowed us to envision new creative projects while expanding our capacity to make a difference.
I am proud to share these five inspiring stories of what we have achieved together!
Puppetry in Spanish-Speaking Communities
Puppet Showplace partnered with OperaHub and the Boston Conservatory to create a Spanish-language touring production of the children's opera El Gato con Botas. Tickets to this show were FREE thanks to generous individual donors and a consortium of funders including the Boston Cultural Council, NEFA's Creative City grant, and the Bob Jolly Charitable Trust. Together, we reached bilingual audiences all over Boston and forged new connections with community partner venues such as Villa Victoria and the Hyde Square Task Force.
Puppets at Night and the
Fight for Racial Justice
Puppets at Night joined forces with the Japanese American Citizen's League (JACL) and the White People Challenging Racism course (WPCR) to bring two outstanding political productions to Brookline and Boston. Kimi Maeda's BEND, inspired by her father's experiences in a Japanese-American internment camp, played to sold-out crowds on Station Street. Paul Zaloom's outrageous satire White Like Me brought in our largest Puppets at Night crowd yet to MassArt's Tower Auditorium. With our partners' help, audiences engaged in reflective conversation about these important political issues after each show.
Cardboard Classroom Initiatives
When Brad Shur's highly-interactive show Cardboard Explosion! was first in development, we offered free mini-performances to Horizons for Homeless Children and to underserved schools and camps around Boston. These partners provided essential feedback about the production. After this "research and development" phase was complete, Boston University's Questrom School of Business tapped Puppet Showplace to collaborate on a graduate-level class about impression management and professional identity. Building on design templates developed for the show, Brad worked with students to create cardboard portrait puppets. He then guided them through improvisations exploring the impact of identity on workplace decision making.
Imagination and Conservation
The Franklin Park Zoo came to Puppet Showplace with a challenge: could our puppeteers transform an unused outdoor space into a Halloween attraction that would celebrate conservation and imagination? After six months of intense work, the result was The Midnight Zoo, a 360-degree immersive production that took audiences on a quest to protect imaginary creatures from extinction. This production was attended by over 4,000 people and involved the talents of 27 performers, 15 designers, and countless other friends and supporters who helped our wildest dreams come true.
Expanding Arts Education
Our education programs have grown by leaps and bounds overthe past five years all thanks to numerous partnerships. Our summer camp, presented in collaboration with Brookline Recreation, now sees full enrollment every August. Last year, with help from Brookline Adult and Community Education, we launched puppetry enrichment programs during school vacation weeks. Finally, the Massachusetts Cultural Council's STARS grant will once again enable us to present a 12-week puppetry residency with the Trotter Innovation Schoo;'s kindergarten classes (enjoy their wonderful shadow puppet video project from 2016).
As we celebrate these successes, I want to thank YOU for being OUR partner as we continue our mission to bring outstanding professional puppetry to diverse audiences. Your support, encouragement, and dedication makes these ambitious collaborations possible.
Here's to more exciting partnerships in 2017!
With hope and boundless enthusiasm about the future,
Roxanna "Roxie" Myhrum
Puppet Showplace Artistic Director