"Puppet showplace theatre"

Behind the Scenes of Adult Classes at Puppet Showplace

Adventures in Puppetry: Part Two
by Guest Blogger Holly Hartman

For Part One, click here.

It is Monday night at the Puppet Showplace Theatre,  I am at the third class of Jonathan Little’s  “Furry Monsters 101,” and I don’t know when I have last laughed this much. I have forgotten about my long day at the office and the sardine subway ride that capped it and have succumbed to the hilarity of playing with monster puppets.

Class Three: Where Is My Head?

Last week we saw ourselves—or rather, our puppets—on the screen of a video monitor for the first time. Like an infant, I was riveted by my own image (in this case, I was a shaggy orange creature with a bow tie). This week we’re sharing the camera in small groups. Our puppets’ movements onscreen are slow, absurd. I’m reminded of how it takes practice for young children to learn where their limbs are in space.

Many of our puppets look like dopey pets: mouths ajar, heads cocked, too clumsy to heed Jonathan as he urges us to move the puppets together and make them look at the camera. My golf-ball-like eyes can’t find the camera; my furry neck cranes in the wrong direction, as if the puppet is captivated by a faraway song. (Note: the students who’ve taken the class before--one is on his fourth enrollment--are a testimony to the benefits of practice. But most of us newbies are pretty klutzy.)

Things a Director Would Never Say to a Human Actor, Yet Prove Helpful When Spoken About a Puppet:

“Your neck looks broken. Hey Chris, would you go un-break his neck?”

“Oops, let me adjust your eyeballs.”

“Next time, remember to open your mouth when you sing.”

More Lucid in Gibberish

Seeing our puppets in groups is also a lesson in how tricky it is to establish spatial relationships among them, in part because we are manipulating them overhead. Many of our puppets end up talking nose-to-nose (or nose-to-where-a-nose-might-be), or leaning away from each other, or failing to make eye contact. As a group, they don’t look very socialized.

We sing “Frere Jacques” with simple choreography that nonetheless goes astray as often as not. (Some of us are self-conscious. “But it’s a puppet,” Jonathan counsels. “It wants to sing and dance.”) Then we try an exercise in which we pair off and have a conversation in gibberish: one puppet speaks nonsense words, the second riffs off of that, and so on. This becomes interesting fast. When the two puppeteers are attuned to each other, a relationship between their puppets begins to arise.

I find it oddly liberating to speak in a nonexistent language. With words cut off from meaning, it’s easier to play with voice and gesture. Plus I like the surrealism of it. At times I brush up against what for me is the most gratifying part of the creative process, when my cognitive mind fades away; and at those times I cannot quite tell whether I am playing with the puppet or the puppet is playing with me.

Class Four: Think Less, Skit More

I thought we were going to start our fourth class with more camera work, but Jonathan greets us by saying that last week he could see us thinking too hard. So instead we’ll begin with vocal and movement practice, then write skits and perform them onstage, then rewrite them and perform them on camera. Well! Is that all for the first hour?!

Soon we have broken into groups to write and rehearse our skits while Chris and Jonathan make the rounds to check on our progress. I feel grateful at how formal instruction accelerates learning, especially when Chris advises us on manipulating our puppets (“When you open the mouth all the way on that one it looks crazy, see?”).

Instructor, Jon Little
The skits end up being pretty hilarious. There’s an operatic saga of family dysfunction, complete with Wagner-length high notes; a Shakespearean trio trying to throw off a gypsy curse; and a tale of infidelity in the American West that features a make-out scene so heated the furry lovers have to pause for a breath. All of this, out of thin air.

Puppet Party

Coordinating my puppet’s jaw, arm, and body movements while I am talking remains a challenge. “Holly, your puppet is on roller skates,” Jonathan says after I glide my blue monster across the stage, having forgotten to give it the natural side-to-side motion of walking. (Which would have been okay if roller skates had featured in the scene.) Some puppets appear to be victims of quicksand, sinking out of the camera frame over time.

Before long, nine puppets are on camera at once. It turns out that much consolidation is possible when we angle our bodies sideways (I recall Jonathan telling us in the first class that “puppetry is the art of working in someone’s armpit”). But onscreen, the puppets don’t look crowded. In fact, they look pretty relaxed and happy as they mingle, sharing puppet observations on party clothes and nachos.

As my rudimentary skills increase, so does my appreciation for the video monitor as a teaching tool. In a nutshell: you can see where you are going wrong and fix it, then and there. Crookneck-squash neck, fixed. Zombie arms, fixed. For someone new to performance, this is like magic.

What the Puppet Wants

I took the class partly in the hope of demystifying puppetry for myself, at least a little bit. In this I have both somewhat succeeded and happily failed.

As to the success: In four whirlwind classes, I have been introduced to the skills necessary to operate hand-and-rod puppets (those icons of my circa 1975 worship of all things Muppet). I now have a novice’s sense of how to make this kind of puppet speak, move, and interact. I see that it takes a tremendous amount of practice to make these actions appear realistic, and that it’s a tremendous amount of fun.

Yet there’s something about puppetry that resists demystification. In skilled hands, a puppet in motion has a life of its own--with its own disposition, its own demands, and the capacity to outwit its puppeteer--and I am happy to say that this aspect of puppetry remains mysterious to me.

Click Here  for a full list of upcoming classes.

Introduction to Puppetry Arts

Instructor: Brad Shur, Artist in Residence
Four sessions, September 16 - October 7
Monday nights, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

What makes a great puppet show? Participants will be introduced to the exciting and multifaceted world of puppetry through hands-on exploration of the materials and performance methods used by professional puppeteers. Participants will survey basic puppetry construction methods, build their own puppets, and learn the basic techniques for making puppets come to life.
Mask and Physical Theatre Intensive
Instructor: Avital Peleg
Four sessions, September 18 - October 9
Wednesday nights, 6:30 to 9:00 pm

This workshop invites participants to immerse themselves in the physical and visual world of mask theatre, discovering the power of their own poetic body through a non-verbal approach to acting. Participants will focus on in-depth and detail-oriented physical performance with full-face white neutral masks. Beginning with solo scenes, adding objects, and building towards duo and ensemble work, participants will heighten their awareness of timing, breath, spatial composition, and audience perception.

Introduction to Shadow Puppetry
Instructor: Brad Shur, Artist in Residence
Four sessions, October 1 - October 22
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Shadow puppetry is a centuries-old art form that is constantly evolving to incorporate new materials and technologies. In "Introduction to Shadow Puppetry," students will learn the history of shadow performance and encounter examples of the exciting work being developed by today's shadow puppeteers. Through building and performance exercises, the class will explore diverse styles of shadow puppets ranging from simple hand shadows to elaborate cut-out figures with moving parts. 

Monster Mondays are Moving In

Summer 2013 Adult Class

By: Joanna McDonough, Deitch Leadership Intern 

We have all heard it, that familiar falsetto voice that can usually be heard talking to a pet goldfish, or a man named Mr. Noodles, or Mr. Noodle's brother, coincidentally also named Mr. Noodles. Some of us were even lucky enough to take part in many giggles with this furry red friend in childhood, when he exclaimed "That tickles!" every time he was hugged. Yes, I am talking about Elmo my favorite Muppet character from Sesame Street and yes, my Tickle Me Elmo still has batteries in it.

Hello! My name is Joanna. I am 18 years old and an intern at the Puppet Showplace Theatre in Brookline, and I am proud to say that like many of you, I love Elmo. Interestingly enough however, until today I did not know anything about the mechanics behind the puppet that resides on Sesame Street.

It is sad to think that despite my knowledge of every song composed by him, I had no idea who the puppeteers who made Elmo come alive were, or who even created the character. As it turns out, the character was created in the 1970s and first performed by Caroll Spinney and Jerry Nelson then later by Kevin Clash. These puppeteers were responsible for Elmo's portrayal, providing his audience with the lifelike movements of the puppet's arms and legs.

How do they do it, you ask?

The techniques used by artists and performers such as Kevin Clash to create believable puppet characters may seem out of reach to master, but there is good news for aspiring performers and Muppet fans alike.

The Puppet Showplace Theatre is bringing back a class due to popular demand called Furry Monsters 101 which will be starting up in July.


'Furry Monsters 101' spring class 2012 show off Little Creature monsters

 What happens in the class?   

The class, taught by Jonathan Little of Little's Creatures, will focus on the proper manipulation of Muppet-style hand and rod puppets featured on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and Avenue Q. Jonathan will teach the class how to make these puppet characters appear as living, breathing beings with their own thoughts, desires, and motivations; some of the basics he will include are breathing, lip-synch, focus, and body positioning.

The sessions for Furry Monsters 101 run July 15 - Aug 5 on Monday nights from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. The registration price by July 1st is $150 and after July 1st it will be  $175.
And don't forget PST members save 10% on registration! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Even though it is only my third day here at the Puppet Showplace Theatre, I can already tell that the programs this organization has planned for the summer will be great ways to beat the heat and enjoy the arts, for both children and adults. I hope to see you this summer in the theatre!

Coming soon! The Great Small Works’ International Toy Theater Festival on Tour

Guest blogger: Holly Hartman, PST Volunteer Media Consultant

Holly Hartman
I first attended a show at the Puppet Showplace Theatre several years ago, when my then-six-year-old niece was visiting Boston. I was dazzled, both by the skill of the puppeteer—the enthralling Sarah Lamstein—and the candid absorption of young audience members. They beamed at the arrival of a friendly kitten puppet, shrieked at onstage silliness, and cringed when a tiny Beelzebub rose up from behind the curtain. Afterward, a few children stayed to “meet” one of the puppets; they held its small hands and spoke to it as if to a new friend, apparently oblivious to the presence of Lamstein.

Since then I’ve also discovered PST's offerings for adult audiences, which have included some of the most memorable and ingenious theater productions I’ve seen anywhere. A troupe from Bavaria, Saltamontes Puppet Arts, enacted a mysterious tale with bunraku-style animal figures; Vermont’s Modern Times Theater used cardboard cutouts in a droll retelling of a political fable by Herman Hesse; recently, a marionette puppet slam blew my mind with wood and string. I have noticed that in the presence of puppetry arts I can be as awed and credulous as any six-year-old.

Right now I’m particularly excited about a traveling show that will be landing at PST at the end of this month: The Great Small Works’ International Toy Theater Festival.

Get Ready for Toy Theater…

One of the many things I’ve learned at PST is that there’s currently an international revival of “toy theaters” (aka “paper theaters” or “model theaters”). These mass-produced Victorian miniatures, complete with paper scenery and characters, were a popular form of home entertainment in nineteenth-century Europe. A wondrous variety of contemporary theater artists have contributed to their revival. “Toy theater festivals happen all over the world,” says PST artistic director Roxanna Myhrum, “consistently amazing audiences with the power of performance-in-miniature.”

"Living Newspaper" by Great Small Works
After a residence at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn (how’s that for a credential?!), the traveling part of this year’s festival will make a stop at PST, on June 28 and 29. Both nights will feature a cabaret-style production by three acclaimed theater companies. I'm really looking forward to seeing their work in the intimate space of PST.

Facto Teatro, "Don Chico con Alas"
Facto Teatro (Mexico City) will perform “Don Chico con Alas” (Don Chico with Wings), based on a surrealistic story by Mexican author Eraclio Zepeda. Barbara Steinitz and Björn Kollin (Berlin) will use live music—and a suitcase for a stage—in“Schnurzpiepegal” (Like Master, Like Dog), a humorous meditation on urban life and human-pet dynamics. Great Small Works (New York, but founded by veterans from Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater) will bring together words and images from modern-day media in “Living Newspaper,” a new work that addresses the issue of American gun violence.

…and a Family Matinee

“Schnurzpiepegal” (Like Master, Like Dog) by Barbara Steinetz and Björn Kollin
Never fear: kids will have the chance to get in on the toy theater fun, too. On Saturday, June 29, PST will host two daytime shows of “Schnurzpiepegal” (Like Master, Like Dog), each followed by a free workshop, where artists Barbara Steinetz and Björn Kollin will help children create their own toy theater puppets.

Just the Facts!

Evening cabaret on Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, at 8 p.m. (Recommended for adults and teens 13+.) Tickets: $15 General Admission/$13 Members. Cash bar.


Family matinee on Saturday, June 29, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (Recommended for ages 3 & up.) Tickets: $12 General Admission/$8 Members. Followed by a free puppet-making workshop; PST will provide materials.


Birthday Party at PST: Help Us Celebrate 39 Years this June!

Celebrate our 39th Birthday with us!

Sunday, June 2nd

1:00-4:00 PM

Join us to celebrate Puppet Showplace Theatre's 39th Birthday with cake and more! Puppet fans can drop-in any time between 1pm and 4pm and enjoy rotating puppet performances, craft activities, and a community giant puppet parade. Participants will be able to bring home balloon animals and goody bags, or make their own puppet at fun craft stations. Tickets: $10 individual, $25 family ($8/$20 members).
Your contributions and "birthday gifts" to the theatre will help us share the magic of puppetry with children from across the Greater Boston Area this summer season. Thank you for helping to make our first family-friendly fundraiser a success!  If you cannot attend, consider making a birthday donation.


Another way to show your support and help us celebrate 39 years as New England's puppet theater is by purchasing raffle tickets! Tickets are $5 each, and can be purchased on line or at our event on June 2nd.

Thank you to Sesame Workshop, our very good friend Leslie Carrara-Rudolph a.k.a. Abby Cadabby and Henry Bear's Park in Brookline for their generous donations!
PST V.I.P. Summer Pass
4 complementary tickets to each puppet show through 
the summer 2013 season at PST

Elmo Pack
Includes: Elmo Themed Kid’s T-shirt, DVD, baseball cap, 
iphone case, and hand puppet

Abby Pack
Includes: Abby Cadabby doll, photo album, 
phone call from Abby, and a signed photo

Sesame Street Pack
Includes: Autographed cast photo, Cookie Monster doll, Sesame Street book, 
and Big Bird finger puppet.
$100 Shopping Spree!
Enjoy a $100 Shopping spree at Henry Bear’s Park in Brookline Village

Thank you for helping us celebrate 39 years as New England's puppet theater!

Support Puppetry This Spring at PST!

Just as a garden needs care and attention to thrive, a small theater depends on the generous support of members and donors in order to survive!  Please help us reach our fundraising goal this spring, so we can continue to bring the magic of puppetry to audiences of all ages! MAKE A DONATION

GUEST BLOGGER: Maria Finison, PST Board Member

Maria and her daughter, Stella!
As a local Brookline resident, fan of the Puppet Showplace Theatre, and current board member, I was happy to be asked to write about our upcoming birthday party celebrations on the puppet blog!
We are very excited this year to be hosting two events for families, friends and supporters.  This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Theatre and all it does for the Brookline and Greater Boston community - all while eating cupcakes! 

On June 2nd from 1:00 to 4:00pm- we will be hosting a family-friendly Birthday Party to celebrate PST’s 39th Birthday.  The event will include fun games, puppet shows, and a Giant Puppet Parade down Station Street to the John Murphy Playground.  During the event there will be cupcakes and a raffle to help support the Theatre. MAKE RESERVATION

On June 4th from 7:00 to 9:00pm- we will be hosting our annual fundraising party with our Garden Party Gala.  For this event, we will be transforming the Theatre into an enchanted garden.  The evening will include performances by emerging artists including our very own Artist in Residence Brad Shur who will be presenting a piece of digital puppetry.  In addition, the Showplace is giving two awards to two outstanding individuals and artists.  The first is the Paul Vincent Davis Award for Puppetry that will be given to Andrew and Bonnie Periale of Perry Alley Puppet Theatre.  The second, our Creative Leadership Award, will be given to Norah Dooley who is the Founder of massmouth, inc.  an organization devoted to the art of storytelling. MAKE RESERVATION

I hope to see many of you at the Theatre for these events.  We are very excited to celebrate with our community of supporters all that we have accomplished this year!


Puppet Playtime is BAAAACCK!

(For ages 3 and under)
Wednesdays at 10:30am through June 5, 2013

Revenge of the Furs! Puppet Playtime Returns to PST!
by Guest Blogger: Phil Berman

March went out like a crocheted lion, April showers brought May flowers to blossom, and the shining sun over the city can only mean one thing: Puppet Playtime is back at PST for four more shows this spring!

Last week Brenda, Bella Monster and I traveled back to the garden where we met a potpourri of friendly (and hungry) bugs. We even got the chance to take our show on the road last Sunday as we performed for the annual Duckling Day Parade at the Boston Common.

On Wednesday, the three of us will embark on a new camping adventure to explore the night sky with our intrepid audience members. Come for the canoeing and stay for the stargazing as we spend a night in an imaginary forest together with all of our puppet friends.

See you at the theater!

Phil Berman
Performer/Co-Creator Puppet Playtime

Animal April Concludes with Anansi the Spider!

Anansi, Spiderman of Africa
by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre

Thurs | April 25 | 10:30 AM

Fri | April 26 | 10:30 AM & *3:30 PM
Sat & Sun | April 27 & 28 | 1 PM & 3 PM
*Join us for a special post-show demonstration with Crabgrass Puppet Theatre, and enjoy a free puppet-making activity to take home after the 3:30pm performance on Friday, April 26.


A side-splitting selection of famous folktales from Africa starring Anansi the Spider, whose appetite always overrules his intellect. Anansi loves to eat and hates to work, so he tries to trick other animals out of their food. But there's no free lunch for Anansi, because all of his schemes leave him hungrier than ever! Anansi is one of the classic trickster characters in world folklore. These comical African folktales are both entertaining and instructive; because he puts his own desires ahead of the needs of his community, Anansi often ends up exiled to the corner of the room. Anansi, Spiderman of Africa was awarded the 2000-2001 Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette, the highest honor in American puppetry. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Crabgrass Puppet Theatre: Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall 

CRABGRASS PUPPET THEATRE is an award-winning, touring puppet theatre founded in 1982 by Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall. After graduating from the University of Connecticut, Bonny and Jamie toured the East Coast with the Pandemonium Puppet Company. After completing that they created their first together, “What a Clever idea!” which had giant puppets that grew to eight feet tall. Crabgrass Puppet Theatre has twice been awarded the prestigious Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette (UNIMA-USA), the highest honor in American puppetry, in 2001 and again in 2005. In 2008, Bonny Hall received a Commendation for Design in the Puppet Theatre from the Arlyn Award Foundation. They have given many thousands of performances in schools, libraries, museums, and arts festivals, and have performed at over two dozen regional, national and international puppetry festivals. 

Who is Anansi the Spiderman?

A book collection of Anansi Stories by Gerald McDermott,
does your local library have a copy!?

Have you ever heard of Anansi, the trickster Spiderman? Anansi the spider is one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore. 

A spider with many names! He is also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy; and in the Southern United States he has evolved into Aunt Nancy.  Although he is a spider, Anansi often often acts and appears as a man. Anansi store are similar to trickster tales found in many Native American cultures about the coyote, raven or Iktomi. 

Where do Anansi Stories Come From?

The Anansi tales are believed to have originated from the Ashanti people in Ghana. (The word Anansi means "spider" in Akan.)  There is even a story in the collection of Anansi stories about WHERE the stories came from:

Once there were no stories in the world. The Sky-God, Nyame, had them all. Anansi went to Nyame and asked how much they would cost to buy.

Nyame set a high price: Anansi must bring back Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, the Mmoboro Hornets, and Mmoatia the dwarf.

Anansi set about capturing these. First he went to where Python lived and debated out loud whether Python was really longer than the palm branch or not as his wife Aso says. Python overheard and, when Anansi explained the debate, agreed to lie along the palm branch. Because he cannot easily make himself completely straight a true impression of his actual length is difficult to obtain, so Python agreed to be tied to the branch. When he was completely tied, Anansi took him to Nyame.

To catch the leopard, Anansi dug a deep hole in the ground. When the leopard fell in the hole Anansi offered to help him out with his webs. Once the leopard was out of the hole he was bound in Anansi's webs and was carried away.

To catch the hornets, Anansi filled a calabash with water and poured some over a banana leaf he held over his head and some over the nest, calling out that it was raining. He suggested the hornets get into the empty calabash, and when they obliged, he quickly sealed the opening.

To catch the dwarf he made a doll and covered it with sticky gum. He placed the doll under the Odum (Tree of Life) where the dwarfs play and put some yam in a bowl in front of it. When the dwarf came and ate the yam she thanked the doll which of course did not reply. Annoyed at its bad manners she struck it, first with one hand then the other. The hands stuck and Ananse captured her.

Anansi handed his captives over to Nyame. Nyame rewarded him with the stories.

Arts Advocacy Event at PST

Meeting with State Representative Frank Smizik
April 18th | 6-7 PM at Puppet Showplace Theatre

State Representative Frank Smizik

Calling all arts-lovers! We invite you to join members of the Brookline arts community for a conversation with State Representative Frank Smizik (15th Norfolk) about the value of arts and culture to Massachusetts residents. As legislators consider a proposal to cut another $1.5 million from the Massachusetts Cultural Council's budget we are initiating this open forum. Refreshments will be served!

Please RSVP to Artistic Director Roxie Myhrum (artistic@puppetshowplace.org) if you think you will be able to attend.

What to expect: Earlier this month, MASSCreative hosted a meeting with state representatives and 25 arts and cultural leaders, at the Fuller Craft Museum. The discussion opened with relevant data on the allocation of funding for the arts. The evening ended with Rep. Cronin stating she would do everything she can based on what she had heard that night and a room full of applause. Read more...

MASSCreative empowers creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice that brings the attention and resources necessary to build vibrant, creative communities. MASSCreative works with creative leaders, working artists, arts educators and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and attention necessary to build vibrant, connected, and creative communities.  http://www.mass-creative.org/

Restoring Joy in Boston

The Puppet Showplace Theatre joins the many members of the Boston community in solidarity and mourning after the senseless attacks on the city yesterday. We want to thank all the first responders and medical personnel for taking action without hesitation to help both members of our own community and those visiting the city for the Marathon. During this time of uncertainty and loss, we hope that many of you will use the power of the arts, in whatever form, to begin to heal. 

If you are a parent and looking for ways to talk to your children about the events that took place at the Boston Marathon, take a look at this helpful webpage by 90.9wbur: CLICK HERE

Graham Gardner- PST Staff Member

Hi PST folks, 
Graham Gardner,
 PST Graphic Designer and Guest Blogger

I hope everyone is waking up safe and sound today. I rode the train early this morning and it felt almost like a ghost town. Even at 7am the train is easily half full of commuters but today there were only a handful of people on the red line heading toward the city. Later I passed a small unit of the National Guard on my way into North Station, all looked just about my age and with crisp, un-dirtied uniforms.

I'll spare you the Mr. Rogers quotes about helpers but the one thought I had this morning was that it was good to be amongst people, even just the few that braved the public commute. It's a strange turn of fate that my car would be in the shop this week and I'm forced to leave the bubble like solitude of a one-person drive to work. There is a lot to be shared in just a few passing glances between commuters today. 

I hope wherever you are--at PST, at one of the million other jobs we all have, or with friends or family--I hope that you are well and I hope that you are finding comfort in the people around you. As a New England institution, PST has been bringing beauty, art, and joy to the people of Boston (and beyond) for many years. I'm proud to be apart of that.

Sending thanks and well wishes to you all and the greater PST community.

Graham Gardner
PST Graphic Designer

Vacation Week is Almost Here with Aesop's Fables!

Aesop's Fables! 
by WonderSpark Puppets
Thurs | April 11 | 10:30 AM
Fri  | April 12 | 10:30 AM
Sat | April 13 | 1 & 3 PM
Sun | April 14 | 1& 3 PM

Are you counting the days until April School Vacation Week like we are? Before our Vaca-week programing is in full swing, stop by the theatre for the delightful performance of "Aesop's Fables" by WonderSpark Puppets! What better way to teach and entertain than with Aesop’s fables! Join us for a great time while learning lessons from these classic tales including "Lion and the Mouse" and "Tortoise and the "Hare."

About the Show:  A hilarious spin on Aesop's Fables with tabletop puppets performed by WonderSpark Puppets. This highly interactive performance of timeless moral stories includes 'The Lion and the Mouse', 'The Ant and The Grasshopper' and the 'Tortoise and the Hare.' Along the way, we also learn the four seasons, the power of kindness and good sportsmanship.

About the Performers: WonderSpark Puppets (New York City, NY) was founded by husband and wife team, Chad Williams and Lindsey “Z” Briggs who infuse fun and whimsy into all their performances. Z Briggs has worked as a professional puppeteer for the last 7 years as a performer and builder on numerous projects including most recently Alissa Hunnicutt's The Kid Inside, Jonny Clockworks' Edward Lear's Absurd Ditties, Lone Wolf Tribes' Bride (2009 UNIMA Award), and the character Lottie Lamb on the PBS kids show Seemore's Playhouse. Chad Williams is a filmmaker turned puppeteer, having shot and edited two puppetry documentaries: Puppet Fest '09 and Puppet Rampage.  http://wondersparkpuppets.com/

Where do the tales of Aesop come from? Who is Aesop? 

Legend has it, the tales known as Aesop’s fables were created by an ancient Greek slave who earned his freedom. The stories were some of the world's first morality tales, originating in the sixth century B.C. Aesop's fables use animal characters to mock human folly and are also the source of many enduring cultural images and idioms.

PST Re-Vamps Fan Favorite with LIVE MUSIC!

Brad Shur Performing "The Carrot Salesman" with Robot puppet
The Carrot Salesman by Brad Shur
Thurs & Fri | April 4 & 5 | 10:30am
Sat & Sun | April 6 & 7| 1pm & 3pm

You can WEAR it, or TEAR it! You can event SHARE it!  
And it tastes GREAT, when you put it on a PLATE! 
Would you like to buy a carrot?"

You have never seen "The Carrot Salesman" by PST Artist in Residence, Brad Shur quite like this before! For the first time ever, enjoy one of your favorite original stories come to life with a brand new music score performed LIVE by local musician, Chris Monti.

Hmmm...Chris Monti...that name sounds familiar, doesn't it? It should! Brad and Chris collaborated on PST's newest production, "Yankee Peddler: Songs and Stories from Old New Englad" this January during our "New Year: New Shows!" series.  Read more about this amazing shadow puppet sing-a-long adventure through Americana on the puppet blog: CLICK HERE

The Carrot Salesman is an original story by PST's own Artist in Residence Brad Shur. The tale follows a door-to-door carrot salesrabbit who is not very good at his job. But through his unsuccessful efforts to sell carrots to elephants, jellyfish, moles, and robots, he discovers a way to help all of the animals. Performed with colorful two-dimensional table-top puppets, live music and fun audience interaction! Recommended for ages 2 and up.

Brad Shur has been PST's Artist in Residence since 2009. Brad has been professionally involved in puppetry for almost 15 years! He began as a performer with the Providence puppet and mask company Big Nazo while studying film and animation at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has worked in various capacities with Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee), and Vermont PuppetTree, and as a builder has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, and other theaters and performers from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts.


Michael Dobiel was exposed to the saxophone at the age of ten and gradually expanded into other instruments. Michael earned a B.A. in saxophone performance and composition from Westfield State College and a M.M. in Composition from the University of Louisville. In 2009 he toured Serbia with Serious Play! Theatre and Ensemble, as part of their production Milosevic at the Hague. More recently, he has taken part in the Boston scene, in collaborations such as Axe to Ice's The Mary Dolan Show.


Chris Monti
Chris Monti is a writer and singer with original material covering a variety of stylistic genres. Playing both acoustic and electric Chris plays. "some old time folkiness, country-blues, African music, rock and roll, hippie music, Indian music [and] a lot of improvisation." Chris fingerpicks, flatpicks, uses open tunings and plays slide. He also plays harmonica, banjo, mandolin, dobro, piano, lap steel and kazoo.

Become a Member this Spring at PST!


April 1 - April 21, 2013

Playing with puppets in the lobby

When you become a member of Puppet Showplace Theatre, not only will you be supporting a local non-profit arts organization, but you save on tickets, store purchases, birthday parties, and more!

Starting at just $50, there are membership packages designed for families of all sizes, and individuals as well! 


April Membership Drive: Anyone who becomes a member or renews their membership between April 1-21 is entered to win a family pack of 4 tickets to the Wheelock Family Theatre 2013-2014 season! (find more info below!)

Members make an impact!
Your support allows us to continue presenting quality performances and workshops all year long in our historic, intimate theatre. As a non-profit organization, only 60% of our operating costs are covered by ticket sales, so the rest comes from generous members and donors like you.

Benefits of PST membership
We thank our members for their generosity by providing special savings and benefits, Including:
  • Discounts on tickets, up to 33% off!
  • Discounts on purchases in our store!
  • Discounts on birthday party rentals!
  • Discounts on workshops & classes!
  • Invitation to members only events!
  • Priority seating, and more!

See the full list of membership benefits:
  click here


This April, we invite our members to GO BANANAS with fan favorite,
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers!

To show our appreciation for PST members, we are hosting a special members-only post-show reception after the 3:00pm performance of Legend of the Banana Kid on Sunday, April 21st.  The reception will begin at 4:00pm.

  • Banana Snacks!
  • Behind the Scenes!
  • Meet the Performers!
The post-show event is FREE for members! To purchase tickets to the 3pm performance of Legend of the Banana Kid, click here.

Not a member? Now is the perfect time to join!


Discounted tickets to see puppet shows at PST, AND the chance to win 4 FREE TICKETS to the Wheelock Family Theatre, 2013-2014 season? It has never been so sweet to become a member at PST!  Anyone who becomes a member or renews their membership between April 1-21 is entered to win.

Wheelock Family Theatre: is a professional, non-profit theatre associated with Actor’s Equity, the union of professional actors and stage managers. Located on the campus of Wheelock College in Boston's Fenway District, Wheelock Family Theatre seeks to improve the lives of children and families through the shared experience of live theatre.

Shows in 2013-2014 season:

The Hobbit (Oct/Nov)
Hairspray (Jan/Feb), 
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (April/May).


Bunnies-a-Bound at PST!

Brer Rabbit & Brer Bear
"Brer Rabbit Tales" by Magical Moonshine Theatre
Thurs | March 28 | 10:30 AM
Fri | March 29 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM
Sat | March 30 | 1 PM & 3PM 
Kick off Easter weekend with the most infamous trickster rabbit of them all- Brer Rabbit!  Not enough bunny for you? Not to worry! We have more bunnies through next week in "The Carrot Salesman" performed by Brad Shur, PST Artist-In-Residence!

About the show: Brer Rabbit is more "April Fool's" than the Easter Bunny, but his antics are hopping great fun! In this hilarious show by Magical Moonshine Theatre (on tour from California!), our famous floppy-eared trickster continually tries to outwit the likes of Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Magical Moonshiner Michael grew up in Alabama, listening to the tales of Brer Rabbit, filled with lore, wisdom and shenanigans. In Tales of Brer Rabbit he and wife, Valerie, blend together some of their favorite folktales, adding a little banjo music and singing to create a show that is clever fun for children and adults alike.

The Carrot Salesman by Brad Shur, PST Artist-In-Residence

Thurs | April 4 | 10:30am
Friday | April 5 | 10:30am & 1pm
Sat & Sun | April 6 & 7 | 10:30am & 1pm


"The Carrot Salesman" is the original story of a door-to-door carrot salesrabbit who is not very good at his job. But through his unsuccessful efforts to sell carrots to elephants, jellyfish, moles, and robots, he discovers a way to help all of the animals. Performed with colorful two-dimensional table-top puppets and fun audience interaction. This show is recommended for ages 3 and up.


Magical Moonshine Theatre has been recognized for fine quality programming, with emphasis on puppetry, mask and music since 1979. MMTheatre performances have been seen coast to coast in the U.S., as well as internationally with performances in 15 countries in 8 different languages. The group has received numerous awards and honors on the national and international level. MMTheatre director and founder Michael Nelson studied puppetry at the International Puppetry Institute with the late Jim Henson of the Muppets. http://www.magicalmoonshine.org/

Michael & Valerie Nelson
The tale of the trickster Brer Rabbit originated in African Folklore and then carried on by African slaves in the New World. Once there it acquired attributes of similar Native American tricksters. The legend was popularized in the United Sates in the stories of Joel Chandler in the late 1800’s. The overall theme is a small, weak, but clever ingenious force can overcome a larger, stronger, but dull-witted power. Brer Rabbit continually outsmarts his bigger animal associates, Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, and Brer Bear.

Go on an Arabian Adventure!

An Arabian Adventure
By Tanglewood Marionettes
Thurs | March 21 | 10:30 AM
Fri | March 22 | 10:30 AM & 3:30 PM
Sat & Sun | March 23 & 24 | 1 & 3 PM

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

About the show: The adventure features over a dozen beautifully hand-crafted marionettes and exquisite “story-book” style scenery, “An Arabian Adventure” tells the tale of a Persian prince who is thrown into a dungeon because of his love for a beautiful princess. Facing danger at every turn, the courageous prince must battle his way out of the underground prison to save his princess from a tragic fate.

The program is presented with the marionettists in full view, so that the audience can witness firsthand the mechanics of puppet manipulation.

About the performer: Tanglewood Marionettes was founded in 1993 by Anne Ware and Peter Schaefer, Tanglewood Marionettes is a nationally touring marionette theater based in New England. There repertoire consists primarily of classic tales performed by skilled puppeteers who have spent many years perfecting their art.

Perhaps you have seen them perform locally at places such as The Children’s Museum in Boston, The Yale Art Gallery or First Night, just to name a few.

Tanglewood Marionettes

What is a Marionette?
Marionettes are puppets that are manipulated by strings or rods. They are one of the oldest forms of puppets with their roots going back to ancient Egypt were they were created out of ivory, wire and wood or clay. In Rome ivory dolls that could be articulated through the use of rods from above have been found in tombs. Puppeteers in Sicily continue to use similar puppets to this day! 

Join us for a Japanese folktale at PST!

"The Singing Turtle" 
by Paul Vincent Davis, performed by Brad Shur
Thurs & Fri | March 14 & 15 | 10:30 AMSat & Sun | March 16 &17 | 1 PM & 3 PM

Recommended for ages 4 and up. 

A young, hard working farm boy, Taro, is desperate to earn money to buy medicine for his mother. He is helped by an amazing singing turtle in this heart-warming Japanese folk tale. Dancing dragons, beautiful costumes, and traditional music make this a memorable show for audiences of all ages.

Paul Vincent Davis 

Paul Vincent Davis joined the Puppet Showplace Theatre in 1977, as its first Artist in Residence. Today Paul serves on our Board of Trustees and is widely recognized as one of the foremost hand puppeteers in the country. He has received numerous awards, including four "Citations of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry" from UNIMA-USA (the highest award given in puppetry) and the distinguished President's Award from Puppeteers of America. 

Brad with The Singing Turtle

Brad Shur has been PST's Artist in Residence since 2009. Brad has been professionally involved in puppetry for almost 15 years. He began as a performer with the Providence puppet and mask company Big Nazo while studying film and animation at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has worked in various capacities with Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee), and Vermont PuppetTree, and as a builder has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, and other theaters and performers from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts.


A folktale is a type of traditional story that tries to explain or understand the world. Japanese folktales reveal information about the history, life and customs of Japan. These stories were often orally passed down from one generation to another and teach the importance of patience, honesty and hard work. The elements of Japanese folktales are similar to those of traditional American folktales. The characters are often animals and royalty and the plots are magical worlds of transformation. Kindness is rewarded and evil is punished. In Japan, folktales are often told through a series of large pictures depicting the important scenes of the story. This is called a Kamishibai or paper play.


Let's take a look at more stories from the rich tradition of Japanese folktales:

In “Tongue Cut Sparrow” an old wood cutter rescued a little sparrow he found crying for help in the woods. His wife however disliked animals and one day cut the sparrows tongue out, after realizing it ate all of their starch. The bird flew away prompting the man to search for it once he returned home and noticed it was gone.

The man found the sparrow in “the sparrow’s inn.” The sparrows offered the man a gift and he had to choose between a small and large basket. Being a selfless person the man choose the smaller basket and upon returning home discovered in was filled with treasure. This prompted his greedy wife to search for the sparrow and get a gift of her own. She choose the large basket and the sparrow warned her not to open it until she got back home, but she did not heed the advice. The basket was filled with snakes and poisonous bugs which chased her over cliffs.

A long time ago in the story of Kachi-Kachi Yama, an old man and his wife lived at the foot of a mountain. They lived in perfect harmony with their vegetable garden. One morning the old man caught a raccoon dog (Tanuki) eating his vegetables and yelled at him until he ran away. However he came back and ate all the man’s vegetables. This made the man so mad, one day he caught the raccoon dog and tied him up. When the man was not around the raccoon dog cried and apologized to the man’s wife so she would let him go, but he bit her leg before he escaped.
Even madder the man set off into the mountain to get some medicine for his wife’s leg. On the way he meet a rabbit and explained what happened. The rabbit said, “I’ll get revenge on him for you.”

The rabbit went to the mountain with a rice ball and gathered some hay. When the raccoon dog passed the rabbit offered him the rice ball if he would carry the hay. He agreed but when he put the hay on his back the rabbit set the hay on fire. Once he was burned he regretted his previous actions.

That night he went to the old man’s house and apologized to him and his wife and they all shared a delicious meal together. 

Travel the World with Shadow Puppets!

Behind the Shadow Screen with
Jim Napolitano of Nappy's Puppets!
Shadows Around the World
by Nappy's Puppets
Thurs & Fr | March 7 & 8 | 10:30am
Fri & Sat | March 9 & 10 | 1pm & 3pm


Travel the world with Nappy's Puppets! For thousands of years, man has manipulated puppets, and one of the oldest and most wonderful forms is shadow puppetry. Don't miss this chance to explore the history of shadow puppetry through classic and original stories with the hilarious Jim Napolitano as your guide!

Humans have manipulated puppets for a variety of reasons: ceremony, religion, education, therapy and entertainment. Of the many forms of puppetry, the most magical and cinematic is shadow puppetry.  Shadows Around The World explores the history of shadow puppetry and its development throughout the world. The program focuses on world cultures and history and the development of Shadow Theater as an art form.

We promise this will be the funniest history lesson you have ever had! Don't believe us? Take a look for your self in this sneak-peek video:


Have we tickled your interest yet? Let's learn some more about shadow puppets from around the world!  Shadow puppets from Indonesia are one of the most famous of all.

Shadow puppet theater is called Wayang Kulit in Indonesia and it is particularly popular in Java and Bali.  The term derived from the word wayang literally means shadow or imagination in Javanese, also connotes "spirit". The word kulit means skin, as the material from which the puppet is made is thin perforated leather sheets made from buffalo skin.

The performances of shadow puppet theater are accompanied by gamelan music in Java. In Bali it is known as wayang kulit, and originally lasted as long as six hours or until dawn. The complete wayang kulit troupes include dalang (puppet master), nayaga (gamelan players), and sinden (female choral singer). Some of the nayaga also performed as male choral singer. The dalang (puppet master) played the wayang behind the cotton screen illuminated by oil lamp or modern halogen lamp, creating visual effects similar to animation. The flat puppet has moveable joints that are animated by hand, using rods connected to the puppet. The handle of the rod is made of carved buffalo horn.

Indonesian Shadow puppets with the gunungan, or "Tree of Life" which signifies the start of the play.
The plays are invariably based on romantic tales, especially adaptations of the classic Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Some of the plays are also based on local happening or other local secular stories. It is up to the dalang (master puppeteer) to decide his direction. At the beginning of each play, a gunungan appears: the tree of life or the holy mountain to signify the start of the story!

Vacation week Continues with All Hands Productions!


Here at PST, we are excited to host David Stephens, the founder of All Hands Productions for two exciting titles.  Celebrate Feb Vacation with a puppet show!

About the Artist:
His mission was to expose families across the Southeast to quality, entertaining puppet shows. So, he toured venues in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He became a regular performer of original works at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta (2002-2004). In 2003, “Billy Goats Gruff and Other Stuff” was featured at the National Puppeteers of America Festival in Tahlequah, OK. This performance came in the middle of a tour that found Stephens performing at venues in New York, Massachusetts, Missouri and Alabama's rural schools. Also in 2003, Stephens received a Telly Award (which spotlights works in the television, commercial, and music video industries) for his collaboration with Pensacola, FL singer/songwriter, Brian Meece. Scruff, a shaggy, white sheepdog character, created and performed by Stephens, was featured in Meece's music video “Playground.”

David Stephens with the audience in the PST lobby.
In 2004, Stephens was awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Alabama State Council On the Arts. This grant helped to fund an exhibit of Stephens work as a puppeteer at the Eastern Shore Arts Center in Fairhope, Alabama. “Puppets and Process” showcased Stephens original puppet creations alongside their designs and sketches. This exhibition drew record numbers to the gallery. Later in the same year, Stephens received one of puppetry's highest honors: “Billy Goats Gruff and Other Stuff” was awarded a 2004 UNIMA-USA (Union Internationale de la Marionette) Citation of Excellence. Created by Jim Henson, who founded the US chapter of UNIMA, the Citations honor outstanding works in the art of puppetry. With this award, Stephens joined the ranks with some of puppetry's most exceptional practitioners. www.allhandsproductions.com

Join us this February Vacation week for ALL of These Fantastic shows by ALL HANDS PRODUCTIONS!

The Reluctant Dragon by All Hands Productions
Tues & Wed & Thur | Feb 19 & 20 & 21 | 10:30 AM & 1:00 PM


About the show: Princess Penepole loves to read about dragons. Imagine her surprise when she actually meets and befriends one! Upon discovering the potential threat of a dragon in the palace, King Rhubarb charges Sir Reginald to fight the dragon. Will it be a fight to the death? Will it be a draw? Will they even fight at all? Find out in All Hands Productions version of “The Reluctant Dragon.” This show was funded in part by a 2008 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant. Recommended for 3 & up.

Jack and the Beanstalk by All Hands Productions

Fri | Feb 22 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM
Sat & Sun | Feb 23 & 24 | 1:00 PM & 3:00 PM

About the show: You may think you know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, but you've never seen a version like this. Join David Stephens and All Hands Productions for a different look at the tale of Jack and his encounters with some magic beans, a beanstalk, a giant and some other fairytale favorites. This production is guaranteed to please audiences of children and giants alike. Recommended for 3 & up.

"The City" by Modern Times Theater at PST

Puppets At Night Returns!
One Night Only...
"The City" by Modern Times Theater
Sat, Feb. 16 | 8 PM


We are excited to be hosting “The City” by Modern Times Theatre as part of our Puppets@Night series. "The City" is a toy theater play and we are looking forward to this special puppet show! During the show, you will experience over 1,000 years of history about the emergence of the city and its people. With Great Enthusiasm, we invite TEENS and ADULTS to join us for this One Night Only Show!!!

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the show with Modern Times Theater on WBUR.ORG:

About the Show: A fairy tale written by Hermann Hesse, “The City” takes you through one thousand years in the history of civilization presented in vivid cardboard Technicolor! Experience the arrival of the urban world taking shape before your very eyes on a minuscule stage of wonder! Hosted by Punch and Judy, puppetry’s favorite jerk and his loudmouth wife, the oddly amusing duo is sure to be a can't miss drama in pint-sized proportions.

Additional Fun: The Modern Times Theatre also doubles as the Plank House band, a cornet and cigar-box Ukulele duo specializing in classic novelty tunes of the 1920’s. Plus a street show series from “The Rural Person’s Verbal Reclamation Front,” whose mission is to reclaim language from the icy grip of the post-industrial empire and present them as a gift for the mutual benefit of women and beast, man and pasture. To date the words “chore” and “economy” have been saved!

About Modern Times Theater: Modern Times Theatre makes puppet shows for the street, the school, the barn, the pasture and the subway. Using cantastoria, cranky, hand puppet, and toy theatre forms, the shows convey a general dissatisfaction with post-modern convenience and promote a return to old-fashioned difficulty. Modern Times Theater is also part of the Vermont Vaudeville troupe, performing Vaudeville shows in the Opera Houses of Vermont. Modern Times Theater is Rose Friedman and Justin Lander, alumni of the Bread and Puppet Theater. The Bread and Puppet Theater, found by Peter Schumann, rose in the lower east side of New York in 1963. The original concerns of the early productions were rents, rats, police and other neighborhood problems. From there more complex pieces emerged equiped with scultures, dance and music.

This Week in Puppet Playtime...TREES!

Rumble rumble rumble . . . 
by Guest Blogger: Phil Berman, Puppet Playtime performer

Do you hear that? Underneath all the snow? It’s the sound of the acorns stretching in their sleep as they wait patiently for spring.

Performers Phil Berman and Brenda Huggins perform "The Girl and the Squirrel",
on stage tomorrow as part of PST's Puppet Playtime!
But how did they get underground when they come from a tree? They’re buried by squirrels saving their nutty snacks for later! The seeds the squirrels forget about start to sprout underground and break out when the weather gets warm.

Join us in the trees tomorrow morning for our fifth session of Puppet Playtime. We have lots in store for you: an arboreal Irish sing-a-long; interactive squirrel games; ballads celebrating American agricultural icons; and of course, the naughtiest crocheted squirrel south of the Charles River.

Brenda, Bella monster and I will be taking a break next week to get ready for the next five sessions of Puppet Playtime. We made it halfway – we hope you’ll continue to join us for the home stretch!!


Puppet Playtime
Wednesdays at 10:30am
Feb 13 & 27
March 6, 13, 20 & 27

Puppet Playtime is Puppet Showplace Theatre's NEW weekly interactive performance recommended for children 3 and under (and their grownups)

5-Session passes still available! 
Save by purchasing 5 sessions at one time; buy 4 get one free! There are only 6 sessions left, so now is a great time to take advantage of the 5-session flex pass.  Every week features a new theme with brand-new music and puppet show!

5-Session Flexible Pass: $100 ($75 for members) PURCHASE PASS

This week in Puppet Playtime...

In the Village, in Brookline Village, the Lion Sleeps Tonight . . .
by Guest Blogger: Phill Berman, Puppet Playtime performer

Shhhh…be very quiet…we’re walking through the deep dark Jungle: who knows what friendly animal companions could leap out at any minute? A lion? A mouse? An exotic bird that may-or-may-not-be a chicken? Or could it be the jungle’s most dangerous predator of all – TODDLERS! When the jungle is in the middle of New England’s oldest puppet theatre, the possibilities are endless.
This week's session of Puppet Playtime features the story of the
 "Lion and the Mouse!"
(in this photo, Bella recreates her own special version!)

As Brenda, Bella Monster and I put the finishing touches on our fourth episode of Puppet Playtime, we find ourselves coming back to the same question: how can this show be more interactive?

We’ve marched with ants, speckled a galaxy with stars and clucked with all the chickens in the barn. As we approach our halfway point in the series, we are still committed to find opportunities for the invisible lines between performers, toddlers and grown-ups to truly disappear.

Bella had a blast last week clucking with our chicken friends!
So far our audiences have done a great job of encouraging each other (as well as the three performers onstage) to commit deeply and fully to the imagination journeys we’ve embarked on. As we adventure into the jungle tomorrow morning, I hope more than ever that everyone is there for each other.



Puppet Playtime
Puppet Showplace Theatre's NEW weekly interactive performance recommended for children 3 and under (and their grownups)

Wednesdays at 10:30am
Feb 6, 13 & 27
March 6, 13, 20 & 27


Drop in rate: $25 per child-adult pair ($10 additional child)
5-Session Flexible Pass: $100 ($75 for members)