"boston"

Worldly Folktales at Puppet Showplace!

Puppets Around the World series of puppetry styles and folktales from across the globe continues with...

One World, Many Stories
by Sparky's Puppets

Thur & Fri, March 13 & 14 @ 10:30 am
Sat & Sun, March 15 & 16 @ 1:00 and 3:00pm

BUY TICKETS

Have you ever wanted to travel the world? Get on board with Sparky’s Puppets for a storytelling adventure that takes you across the globe!



About the Performance: Take a trip around the world with Sparky's Puppets in this delightful, interactive performance featuring funny folktales from Asia, Africa, and Europe. Visit a friendly family of mice in Japan. Laugh at the antics of West African trickster Anansi the Spider. Then, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, meet a mischievous leprechaun who proves very hard to catch!

About the Performer: Kathleen “Sparky” Davis began dramatizing stories with hand puppets while working as a children's librarian. Since 1980, Sparky's Puppets have delighted children and family audiences at schools, libraries and festivals throughout New England. Every summer, Sparky creates a special show for the Rhode Island statewide public libraries' summer reading program.

Sparky loves to see children's reactions to their favorite stories brought to life with endearing puppet characters. She is known for her quick wit and hilarious sense of humor. A preschool child at a recent show was heard to say. "It was so funny I burst out laughing!"

Learn more about Sparky’s Puppets here.

Join us for a hilarious show of travelling, magic, and puppets!

Meet the Man Behind the Sock Puppet

Behind-the-Scenes of “The Joshua Show” with Joshua Holden

Puppets at Night, a series of evening puppetry performances for adult and teen audiences at Puppet Showplace Theatre presents “The Joshua Show” by Joshua Holden, Fri & Sat, Feb 28 & Mar 1 at 8pm. This award-winning performance features classic vaudeville physical humor, original live music, puppets and even tap dancing! Tickets: www.puppetshowplace.org


Interview with Joshua Holden...

How did you become a performer?

I started performing in community theatre at the age of 7 after seeing my first live performance at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly. It became very clear to me that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. In my junior year of high school i was awarded a scholarship to attend the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick and graduated from there the following year. I feel so proud to be in Boston doing what I love.


How did you create “The Joshua Show”?

I lived a nomadic life for nearly four years while traveling the US with various national tours. At the end of this long chapter of my life, I had no home base and no obligations. I went on a road trip with a friend, and while passing through Chicago, I was invited to perform in a puppet slam. It felt way too scary to create an original piece in such a short amount of time and I initially said, "No, I wouldn't know what to do" My friend responded with, “Well, what do you daydream about?” and I jokingly said, "I want to be the next Mr. Rogers and host my own television show." She said, "then do it!" So, that’s what I did! I made two puppets, and called the piece “The Joy Friends.” It was only 10 minutes long, but people were so excited about what they saw at the puppet slam that I decided that I would continue working on it.

Joshua Holden, puppeteer in "Peter Pan 360"
Who did you collaborate with to create “The Joshua Show”?

I have worked with two very talented musicians: Alex Knapp & Tim Hansen. Tim is an Australian composer that I met in New York about a year and a half ago. When the piece was still in development, we tried out new material at puppet slams and workshops. Tim wrote an adorably awesome song celebrating what it’s like to be a sheep called “When you’re a sheep” back in 2008 and we worked it into the show. He has now since moved back to Australia but when he said he would be in the U.S. this February, I had to have him as part of the performance of “The Joshua Show” at Puppet Showplace!

Joshua Holden with Tim Hansen, composer and musician.
Why do you incorporate puppets and tap dancing in your show?

I present myself in “The Joshua Show” as a gentleman and I create work that is genuinely accessible to both kids and adults. I strive to create work that spreads joy to my audiences. Bringing puppets to the show is a no-brainer because they are instant joy makers. Tap dancing is one of the happiest forms of dancing and it's intergenerational. It pumps up the energy of the show.

Joshua Holden with puppet character from "The Joshua Show"

What was your experience at the 2013 National Puppetry Festival?

Applying for the National Puppet Festival was scary but exciting. I only had a 10 minute piece when I applied. I was accepted to perform at the festival under the agreement that I would expand the piece to 45 minutes in length. Over the course of a year I traveled all over the country from New York City, to Chicago, Philadelphia and even Reading, MA adding more material with each performance. When I finally got to the festival, I was overwhelmed with the national puppet community and the abundant talent surrounding me. When I was awarded “Fan Favorite” and “Best Performance” at the awards ceremony, I was shocked and incredibly proud that all my hard work had paid off.


Who inspires and influences your creative work?

I often find myself looking at classic children's television hosts. Mr. Rogers is my biggest influence. Everyone was affected by him as a humanitarian and everyone's best friend. Yes, he was a bit sappy, but he made you feel so good about yourself and his positive messages resonated with everyone. When I look at what’s happening in today's entertainment, we don’t have that classic host with a cast of characters. I want to create a platform similar to Mr. Rogers and talk about the issues we are dealing with in todays world.

Joshua Holden with Mr. Nicholas in "The Joshua Show"
What do you hope to communicate to the audience?

This show is 100% from my heart. It's about celebrating our differences and finding joy in everyday life and about respecting your feelings and the feelings of others. It's about loving this awesome life we get to live each and every day.

What is next for the Joshua show?

I'm currently creating new material for "The Joshua Show" that I will be filming and putting on my YouTube channel in attempts to expand my audience and reach as many people as I can. I'm greatly honored to announce that in the spring of 2015 I will be performing at The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA for thirteen shows.



Dreams of the BIG TOP at Puppet Showplace!

FINAL SHOW of the CIRCUS SPECTACULAR series!

"Circus Dreams"

by Tuckers' Tales Puppet Theater

Thurs & Fri November 21-22 @ 10:30 am, 
Sat  & Sun, November 23-24 @ 1:00 & 3:00 pm

BUY TICKETS

Join us for our last week of circus fun at Puppet Showplace! Our friends Tuckers' Tales are here from Philadelphia, PA with a circus variety show full of silly clowns and zany characters. See you at the theatre!

About the show: Have you ever dreamed of being in the circus? Join Tuckers’ Tales on a journey of the imagination in two original Big Top tales. First, Jeffrey the Bear has wanted to be a circus clown for as long as he could remember. Will this little bear get his wish to become a big star? Then, a zany ringmaster and his clown “assistants” are determined to see the show go on, despite bungled magic tricks and escaping animals. The result is a lively variety show featuring lovable characters, constant surprises, and fun!

About the performer: Tuckers’ Tales is a puppet company based outside of Philadelphia. Co-directors and husband and wife team Marianne and Tom Tucker performed together as folk musicians for over a decade when they decided form their own puppet company in 1981. The Tuckers now have over two dozen original puppet productions in their repertoire, ranging from folk tales and legends to hilarious children’s variety shows. Every year Tuckers’ Tales appears at puppet, folk, ethnic and street festivals; and at craft fairs, shopping centers, theaters and schools around the country.

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.

UPCOMING FALL CLASSES:
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. 

Fall Fairy Tale Festival: Labor Day Weekend Through Columbus Day!

Puppet Showplace Theatre presents...

3rd Annual Fall Fairy Tale Festival
August 31-October 14


FALL FAIRY TALE FESTIVAL KICK OFF WEEKEND!

"Snow White & Other Tales"
by Perry Alley Theatre
Sat & Sun, Aug 31 & Sept 1
Shows at 1pm & 3pm


Join friends and family for a scavenger hunt, special treats, and other festive activities all throughout Puppet Showplace Theatre's Labor Day weekend season kick-off event!

About the show: Three fairy tales come to life as you’ve never seen them before in this imaginative production by the award-winning Perry Alley Theatre. See "Little Red Riding Hood" as it might have been performed in Ancient Rome, play pranks with the medieval puppet cast of “The Princess and the Pea,” and get a taste of Dad’s unusual sense of humor in an original dinner-table retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

A show for the whole family: "Snow White and Other Tales" is a great show for all ages. The content is episodic, interactive, and silly, with lots of jokes that are appealing to younger audiences. The show is also very thoughtful and intellectually creative and appeals to parents and older children who will appreciate the verbal puns and tounge-in-cheek historical references.


Many different styles of puppetry: The show uses multiple styles of puppetry, including traditional glove puppetry, table top puppetry, and found object puppetry. This show is particularly recommended for those who are interested in creative variations on traditional puppetry performance. To prepare for the show, grown ups may want to explore different versions of fairytales with their children to see how an artist can modify the story.

Suggested story books: Can't wait for the show day to arrive? Check out these suggested books to get you into the fairy tale mood.  These stories aren't your typical renditions, but unique and creative retellings!  Read a fractured fairytale book like "The Stinky Cheese Man" or Compare Disney's "Snow White" to the Brother's Grimm edition or Pushkin's "The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights"
Andrew and Bonnie Periale receiving 2013 Paul Vincent Davis award for life time achievement in puppetry.
About the artists: Andrew and Bonnie Periale founded Perry Alley Theatre in 1986 and moved to their current home and studio in NH in 1988. Together, they’ve produced a dozen major shows and many shorter pieces for touring. Andrew and Bonnie have performed at numerous national and regional festivals, at the Smithsonian Institution, the Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta), the Jim Henson International Festival of Puppetry and many other venues across the U.S. as well as in France and Italy.

They have produced the magazines for UNIMA-USA for 28 years, establishing Puppetry International magazine in the early 1990s. Recognition includes The Paul Vincent Davis Award, the George Latshaw Award, 3 Henson Foundation grants, 2 UNIMA Citations, an Emmy nomination, finalists in the International Festival of Film and Television and, from UNIMA-USA, a Lifetime Achievement award.

Learn more about Perry Alley theatre on their website: CLICK HERE

Summer Kickoff Weekend is HERE!

Sir George Slays the Heat During Summer Puppet Adventures 


SUMMER PUPPET ADVENTURES
KICKOFF WEEKEND EVENT
Games, treats and more!

This weekend, July 6-7, Puppet Showplace will be presenting the first of a succession of family puppet shows as part of our Summer Puppet Adventures this July and August. Join us for what one parent blogger called "pure, air conditioned fun!"

First up is "Sir George and the Dragon" by Pumpernickel Puppets. After watching the show, enjoy free frozen treats donated by Whole Foods Market Brighton.

PLUS other FREE games, prizes and more!
  
MEET OUR NEW E.D. THIS WEEKEND!
Executive Director, Thom Yarnal

Our new Executive Director, Thom Yarnal, is an arts administrator, stage director and teacher with diverse performing credits who has spent the past 30 years creating and producing live cultural events in venues such as theaters, state correctional facilities, and international arts festivals.  

Thom will be at the theatre both Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6! Enjoy a puppet show, snack on some free treats and get to know our new Executive Director. 



 KICKOFF WEEKEND PERFORMANCE

"Sir George and the Dragon"
 by Pumpernickel Puppets  
 Fri & Sat, July 6 & 7
10:30 AM & 1:00 PM


About the show: Join an adventurous princess as she journeys to Mystery Mountain to visit the Great Green Dragon. Along the way you’ll meet Zelda the babysitter, a silly bat, Sir George and his clumsy dog, and of course the lovable dragon. Will Sir George slay the dragon? Not to worry, everything ends happily in this fun show. Hand puppets. Recommended for ages 3 & up.

John McDonough with some of his vivacious hand puppets
ABOUT THE ARTIST
For over thirty five years the Pumpernickel Puppets have captivated audiences of all ages. John McDonough and his puppets present over two hundred fifty shows a year at schools, libraries and private parties throughout the New England area. The Pumpernickel Puppets have had the honor of appearing at The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, The Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta, GA and the prestigious International Festival of Puppetry sponsored by the Jim Henson Foundation in New York.

SEE YOU AT THE THEATRE!
The staff at Puppet Showplace is excited to begin the summer series under the direction of our new Executive Director, Thom and kickoff the season with a delightful performance by Pumpernickel Puppets. Join us for this exciting celebration of summer and puppetry!

PST Recognizes Norah Dooley, Co-Founder of massmouth, inc for Leadership in the Arts

Reflections on a Creative Leadership Award

by Guest Blogger: Norah Dooley, Co-Founder of massmouth, inc.

This Tuesday, June 4th, 2013  I am honored to receive a Creative Leadership Award at Puppet Showplace Theatre at the Garden Party Gala, celebrating the occasion of their 39th birthday. 

When we first approached Puppet Showplace, in 2010, with the idea of a collaboration, massmouth was just over one year old. We had long known and respected Puppet Showplace Theatre as a venue that supported the art form of puppetry which, much like storytelling, it is an art form with ancient roots that evokes rather than replaces imagination. We also knew that Puppet Showplace Theatre were successful. They had a history that showed grit and commitment that we could admire and aspire to; they had survived as artists and had maintained a continuously operating theater right in the heart of Greater Boston for over 3 decades.

Three years ago, we were whippersnappers, who had just finished our first season of story slams and believed we had a some social capital to share. And if leadership is boldly asking for what one needs, whether  appropriate or not, then I have earned some part of this honor -  although Cheeky Monkey Award would be a name better fitted to my style. We were beggars at the Puppet Theatre gate and  very seriously in need of inexpensive or free office space because our operations had outgrown bedroom/living room arrangement. I suggested a collaboration based on our needs. Ultimately and not surprisingly, the first date between massmouth and Puppet Showplace Theatre did not lead to a relationship.

Norah Dooley Introducing Maria Tatar at our first "Grimm and Twisted" fairytale slam at PST
 - also the 200th anniversary of the Grimms
Skip ahead to this spring.  I am reading ( more precisely, skimming)  the email announcing I was being honored with this award. At first glance I thought that I was being asked to write a recommendation for Roxie Myhrum.  She was the one who helped us find a way to work together.  How perfect, I thought. Roxie is someone with vision, passion and drive. She really deserves this kind of award. I was so delighted to be able to do a small favor for Artistic Director of the Puppet Showplace Theatre that I started to read the email, just to be sure I knew when the deadline for my recommendation might be. 

This closer reading revealed a mind-blowing truth - The Creative Leadership Award was being given to me and Roxie had been my nominator. I know. It was crazy!  Immediately I was on the phone asking Maria Finison, PST Board Member, if the award could be expanded to include the other organizers and founders of massmouth who are still active in Boston. Specifically, Doria Hughes who co-hosted and planned the series at Puppet Showplace Theatre with me and Andrea Lovett, who is always actively promoting the art of storytelling.  They both are leaders in the very best in contemporary performance of traditional material. But, no dice. This is an award for one person and Puppet Showplace Theatre wanted me. They cited the other areas of my work as fitting their criteria; my picture books, workshops, curricula etc. and so, although it is awkward to be so honored, I realized that I had to man-up and take one for the team.  So I accept this award for me as a representative of the art of  storytelling. 

Last summer after a different kind of overture we shared a proposal with Puppet Showplace Theatre and created a project that worked. It had been a dream at massmouth,inc. that we would one day be able to entice a theater or another arts group to support traditional storytelling.  This was an area of storytelling that we had mastered and worked in for decades. When we saw all storytelling on the wane, we started massmouth. When we saw the new energy slams brought to the art form we came up with an idea to mimic our successful 1st person story slams only using traditional content.

Doria Hughes, storyteller fabulosa,  traditional storytellers from Greater Boston and the region and I presented a monthly series of folk & fairy tale slams events right here. Our Slamming the Tradition: Six traditional storytelling events for adults were part open slam, where tellers presented stories no longer than 7 minutes, that were fiction and in some traditional form and part featured performer. Unlike our other story slams, tellers could include props, costumes and music BUT no notes. We secured the prizes and the audience chose winners: A bag of magic beans, magic wishing stone and a small bale of hay were award each month along with a gift card, donated by the Brookline Booksmith. Our first event was written up in ArtsFuse OCT 21 2012.

Performing with Susan Miron on February 14th, 2013 at PST
Audiences and performers enjoyed the project and you can read more about specific nights here. One of the highlights of our series for me was that I was able to create a program and present a feature on Feb 14th,  2013, telling longer stories from Boccaccio's 14th century collection of tales, The Decameron. Giovanni Boccaccio, a favorite of mine. He was an Italian author and poet, and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio is particularly noted for his natural, his skewering of hypocrites in high places, witty dialogue and his sympathetic female characters.

My stories ranged from naughty to lusty, and included romantic tales that came from ancient story traditions of India and the bards of the Holy Roman Empire. Susan Miron accompanied me on the harp. She drew on various ancient folk melodies and dances from Southern Italy. The music comes from authentic folk songs of Campagnia, Calabria, Puglia & Napoli as transcribed by John LaBarbera, mandolinist.

All the performers at "Love, sex and heads may roll." at PST
Thank you so much to Andrea, Doria and Stu, the co-founders of massmouth, to Paula Junn and Hannah Lapuh the staff, the Board of Directors and all the volunteers at massmouth. Thanks to all my friends and supporters especially Sheila Leavitt and Susan Miron. Thanks to all the storytellers and listeners. Thanks so much to all at Puppet Showplace Theatre. You are our artistic cousins and have treated us like family -and you all have been delightfully collegial and fun to work with besides.  And, saving the most important for last, thanks to my family for their support my art and endurance of my absences, rants and excesses as I follow a quixotic quest for a path that leads to right livelihood through work as an artist. Thank you, all.

PST Musician-in-Residence on Creating Music for "Squirrel"

Bonnie Duncan in "Squirrel Stole My Underpants"

"NEW YEAR, NEW SHOWS!": Series of new work created by local artists continues with great success!

What an EXCITING weekend! After a completely sold out run this past Saturday and Sunday, "Squirrel Stole My Underpants" by Bonnie Duncan is bringing much joy and adventure to audiences young and old.  The final weekend of performances runs Thursday through Sunday, Jan 31-Feb 3.


New Year, NEW MUSIC!
In addition to Bonnie's unique mash up of theatrical tricks, including dance, physical theatre, and puppetry, local musicians created a brilliant score to help take the audience on an underpants search-party adventure.  Puppet Showplace Theatre's own musician-in-residence, Brendan Burns is one of the co-composers and performers.

Brendan Burns is a guitarist & educator rooted in Somerville, MA.  He released his debut album TimeStamp (recorded live at the Somerville Theatre) in 2012 (available via BandCampiTunes & Spotify), and is featured in Alexia Prichard's Documentary about the project; as well as the Boston Globe.  Brendan is a regular contributor with SchoolTreeKristen Ford BandKarin WebbMolly Zenobia & Brendan Burns' Roadhouse.  He is also a founding member of the music & puppetry troupe: Elephant Tango Ensemble (nominated for an IRNE), former director of the house band for Bent Wit Cabaret and currently the musician-in-residence at the Puppet Showplace Theatre

Brendan is today's guest blogger, writing about his experience collaborating on this exciting new project.

Creating Music for Squirrel Stole My Underpants 
by Guest Blogger: Brendan Burns

Bonnie Duncan is amazing.  I've been an admirer of her work and creative brain for years.  
Bonnie Duncan in "Squirrel Stole My Underpants"
She first introduced me to "The Squirrel" at a Puppet Incubator meeting at the Puppet Showplace Theatre.  Her show: Squirrel Stole My Underpants was still in development, but the idea was amazing and the creator was brilliant.  

Bonnie asked for my help to bring musicians into the project, and we soon discovered it was the perfect opportunity for Tony Leva (upright bass) and I to take on as co-composers.  For a little over two months, we met every Wednesday morning at the Puppet Showplace Theatre and tried out ideas.  Sometimes we would work on the entire show, and other times it was just one scene, but all of the time we were laughing & giggling.  Tony would record our rehearsals so we could listen back to our ideas, and most of the time he captured the three of us giggling uncontrollably at the silliness of what we were creating.  Here's an audio clip of an early draft of Sylvie's Lament where we were playing around with the sadness that comes from realizing your favorite underwear has been stolen by a squirrel - you can hear how long were able to keep things serious….
Example music sketches for "Squirrel Stole My Underpants"
Over time, and with lots of practice, we created the music that fit perfectly for this show.  As composers, Tony & I are mostly underscoring Bonnie and providing support where she needs it.  Our job is help illuminate and tie together the fantasy adventure that Bonnie has created. 
Top Left: Brendan Burns, Right: Tony Leva, Bottom Left: Ariel Bernstein
Early in the process, Tony & I realized that we would not be able to perform every show that Bonnie was going to put on, and therefore we strategized a way for her to use recorded versions of us when necessary.  Using the talents of engineer Ariel Bernstein, we crafted and chaptered a recording of the entire score so that Bonnie could use us on CD, triggering us to the next track when she needed it with a hidden remote.  Through studying our rehearsal video, we recorded and delivered a flexible soundtrack that could allow for spontaneity and consistency for whenever and wherever Bonnie was performing.  In the future, we hope to play with Bonnie in every way that we can, but if doesn't work out, we'll be there in spirit - on the recording. 

-Bb

Brendan and Tony will perform live music for the 10:30am performance of "Squirrel Stole My Underpants" on Thursday, January 31st, and 3pm on Sunday, Feb 3rd!

This week in Puppet Playtime....

Two 5-week sessions: Weds @ 10:30am 
Last week's Puppet Playtime with Bella:
 "Adventure in the Night Sky"
Jan 16 - Feb 13; Feb 27 - Mar 27

LEARN MORE/ REGISTER

THE FUN IS JUST BEGINNING!


What a blast! Our BRAND NEW programing for toddlers and tiny tots kicked of last week, to great success. This interactive program is designed especially for little ones and their grown-ups to sing and sway along, and join in the fun. Today, Puppet Playtime performer, Phil Berman returns as a guest blogger to talk about the program, and give us a sneak-peek at what is in store for tomorrow!

GUEST BLOGGER: PHILIP BERMAN


Phil Berman

What a whirlwind week! It's hard to believe that Brenda, Bella and I are already on our second episode of PUPPET PLAYTIME. The three of us had a blast last Wednesday on our adventure in the night sky with all the kids and grown-ups who braved the snow to play, sing songs and experience the magic of live puppetry.

As a kids' performer with no children of my own, I spend a lot of time thinking about how my work can best fit in with the busy lives of the families we entertain. With very young children it can be a hassle to leave the house to go anywhere, let alone attend arts events! What can my work offer to kids and grown-ups alike that makes each show a "must-see?"

What I saw last week was a beautiful preview of things to come: parents, caretakers, relatives and lots of little tykes playing with their familiar faces. By the end of the program, kids were singing, clapping and laughing together (as well as some of thier older companions.) I hope that this feeling of family and community continues to grow as we continue with the series through the winter.

Tomorrow we're in for an icky treat at PUPPET PLAYTIME: we'll march with the ants, meet a quartet of quarrelsome critters, wash out spiders and feed some very hungry caterpillars. Leave the OFF! at home, because this buggy adventure is sure to bring a smile to kids and grown-ups alike.

See you at the theater!

PB

Come dance, play and pretend with us, Wednesdays this winter at 10:30am!

Puppets at the Pru!

31 Nights of Light at the Prudencial Center

The Shops at Prudential Center will shine a light on Boston organizations this holiday season. Each night, the top of Prudential Tower is lit a different color in support of that night's partner. 31 Nights of Light was created to help community organizations gain key visibility during the holiday season. Participating groups will "flip the switch" each night, with a host of musical performances and speakers each night. LEARN MORE

On Friday, December 28th, the Prudential Tower will light up orange at 5pm in honor of Puppet Showplace Theatre!


Help us Celebrate
Join us from 12:00pm to 5pm for a puppet extravaganza!
  • Puppet making activity: Make your own snowman puppet!
  • Enjoy displays of puppets made by our founder, Mary Churchill and Artist-in-Residence Emeritus, Paul Vincent Davis.
  • Bella Monster and friends will be there too with stories and songs!
  • And don't forget to help us "Flip-the-switch" at 5pm!
Stop by anytime between 12pm and 5pm, we will be in the Huntington Arcade, next to the South Garden.

Directions to the Prudential Center: CLICK HERE

PST to Host Traditional Story Slams


Traditional Story Slams for Teens and Adults


Have a favorite folk or fairytale you like to tell your kids? A soft spot for heros, evil kings, and talking animals? Want to dabble in the world of parables and fables? You're invited to participate in PST/massmouth, inc.'s monthly Traditional Story Slam. Each event, which will take place from 7-9pm at Puppet Showplace Theatre in Brookline, will feature seven story slammers and one featured storyteller. 




Slam guidelines include:
  • 7-minute story limit
  • content must be fictional and based in some tradition and the evening's theme.
  • content cannot be from a literary work must be teller’s own words
  • tellers may use props, costumes, and/or music
  • tellers cannot use notes
Prizes for top storytellers (chosen by the audience) include a bag of magic beans, a magic wishing stone, and a small bale of hay. Additional prizes maybe added.

Traditional Story Slam Dates!
2012: Oct 18, Nov 15, Dec 20 from 7-9pm
2013: Jan 17, Feb 14, Mar 14 from 7-9pm

Tickets will be $8 online and $10 at the door.  

Story Slams

massmouth storyteller
The primary way in which massmouth promotes storytelling is through story slams. Similar to a poetry slam, a story slam is a competition based on the art of storytelling. At each event, interested slammers will submit their names to participate and the chosen few (the lucky eight to ten chosen at random from a box) get to tell their stories. Each participant will deliver a five-minute story (based on the event’s chosen theme), which will be scored by volunteer judges. The judges’ base their scores on presentation, structure, exploration of and connection to the slam’s theme, and time limit. 
Additionally, the story must be an original, real-life adventure with a beginning, middle, and end. The two highest-scoring tellers are awarded prizes and an opportunity to perform at the “the big mouthoff”

Through the 2012-2013 season, massmouth, inc. will offer three to four story slams a month at venues across the Greater Boston area. Upcoming story slams include themes such as “night owl,” “foodie,” and “betrayal.” The organization’s next event will take place on Saturday, September 29, from 3pm-6pm at the Rosebud Bar and Grill in Somerville, Mass. The event’s theme is “labels.”

For more information about massmouth, inc., check out their website.

Traditional Storytelling
Rumpelstiltskin

Where the massmouth/Puppet Showplace Theatre collaboration differs from usual story slams is the emphasis on traditional storytelling. Where massmouth events typically require stories to be first-person narrative based on lived experience, traditional stories must be based in fiction and borrowed from a traditional source.

These adults-only events are geared towards restoring the rawness and roughness and eliminating the “knee-slapping and feel good endings” of watered-down folk and fairytales. Contrary to fairytales of the Disney era, these stories should not provide tidy moral lessons.

Similarly, massmouth, inc. founder Norah Dooley warns participants to be wary of the term “adult.” According to Dooley, “‘adult’ [does] not mean simply tacking on promiscuity, gender issues and substance abuse one has created an "adult" tale… an adult tale is one that is complex, deep, and resonating enough to entertain and challenge even the most jaded grown up.”

For more information on traditional storytelling, check out Norah Dooley’s blog post on the subject.