"Mary Churchill"

From the PST Vault: Aesop's Fables

Mary performing her rendition of Aesop's
Aesop's Past...

Greetings, Readers!  Welcome to the PST Vault.  Feels pretty cozy, right?  That's because you're surrounded by lots of fun facts and what not.  Yes, get ready, because you're about to learn about (*drumroll, please*) the woman who founded PST, Mary Churchill!

Now, you may be wondering: what's the connection between Mary and Aesop's Fables?  Well, in addition to being a very skilled puppeteer, Mary was also a visionary educator.  She believed that puppet shows are a great way to educate young children about everyday issues.

You see the connection?  Mary believed in education and Aesop's Fables is all about educating its audience.  You know the stories, I'm sure.  Take a look at "The Ant and the Grasshopper" and "The Tortoise and the Hare."  One is about the virtues of hard work and planning for the future and the other is about how ingenuity and trickery (rather than doggedness) are employed to overcome a stronger opponent.  These are just some of many lessons Mary considered to be valuable when performing for children.  Why?  Because, in a way, morals like these help boys and girls grow into fine men and women.
Mary's puppets
Also - just for fun - did you know that Mary had a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-like relationship with a very special person?  You know The Muppets, I'm sure.  What about the man behind The Muppets, Jim Henson?  Well, he visited PST once and took a liking to some of Mary's puppets.  Take a look:
Jim Henson (*Oh my god!*) with the Lion
Did you just die and go to heaven?  Me, too!  How cool is that - Mary knowing Jim Henson way back when?!  I mean, what a woman, right?  Thanks to her, we puppet enthusiasts here at PST are able to look back and revisit a wonderful history she left behind - and we love her for that.

And Aesop's Present...

Aesop's Fables by Tuckers' Tales
Now, this week we welcome back Tuckers' Tales as they perform Aesop's Fables for the PST Feast of Food and Folktales.  We hope you're just as excited as we are because not only is this show a fun and interactive sing-a-long, but it's also a steal - three stories in one: "The Fox and the Crow," "The Ant and the Grasshopper," and "The Tortoise and the Hare" - all of which are guaranteed to teach the wee ones several valuable lessons.

In case you didn't know - Tuckers' Tales Puppet Theatre is the performing division of Puppet Perceptions, Inc., a Philadelphia based performing company founded in 1981.  Co-directors Marianne and Tom Tucker have performed at puppet, folk, ethnic and street festivals as well as craft fairs, shopping centers, theaters and schools around the country.  In addition to Aesop's Fables, they've also performed Three Bears!, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Peter Rabbit Tales.
The Tuckers themselves!
Tuckers' Tales Past Performances
Yes, be sure to come on down to PST this week and see the Tuckers perform their version of Aesop's Fables (BUY TICKETS).  We promise you this: it's going to be a blast!

Till next time!  Yours truly, Esra Erol - marketing intern at PST.

From the PST Vault: Mary Churchill's "Three Little Pigs"

"The Three Little Pigs" by PST's Founder:

While getting ready for our upcoming performance of "The Three Little Pigs" by WonderSpark Puppets this weekend, I rememberd a conversation I had with Paul Vincent Davis, our Artist-In-Residence Emeritis about Mary Churchill's production of the same story. I was inspired to search deep into our old photos, and found three delightful images of Mary's beautiful show! Enjoy!

-Brenda Huggins, Communications Director

About Mary:

The Puppet Showplace Theatre (PST) was founded in June 1974 by visionary educator and puppeteer Mary Churchill. Mary saw puppetry as a powerful medium for teaching children, stimulating their creativity, and introducing them to the experience of live theatre.

One of the many shows she performed at PST was the story of the three little pigs! For almost 20 years, Mary performed this show with hand made puppets created in her signature, croche design. Families would enjoy a puppet show bill that included this story with two others; sometimes "Little Red-Riding Hood", or Aesop's tale of "The Lion and the Mouse."

Mary's Three Little Pigs:

In Mary's telling of this classic tale, there were not just three pigs in the story; the famous trio was joined by their mother. Four pigs! Mother pig had two sons, and one daughter. It was important to Mary, when adapting classic stories, to paint a picture of female characters in a stronger light, where they could have control over their own lives, and were not at the mercy of an evil witch, or married-off to a prince who she knew for about 2 hours.

 Mary's "Three Little Pigs" is a perfect example of this feminist twist to a classic tale, where the pig who build's a brick house is a girl pig, studying to become a dentist! How fun, and what a great message to little girls in the audience!

At the end of the show, the girl, soon-to-be-dentist-pig defeats the Wolf by pulling out his teeth! A famous line of the show spoken by the wolf: "That's O.K., they were just my baby teeth, and another set will grow in."

Mary's visionary work continues to inspire the staff and artists at PST, and we are so happy to share these beautiful images of her work from our archive!

Meet the Puppets on Display @ PST

Did you know that the Puppet Showplace Theatre is home to the hand-made puppets of some of the area's best-loved puppeteers? It's true! Next time you're at the theatre, look up – they're all around you, displayed up above the Puppet Store in our lobby.

Here are just some of the puppets you're bound to find.

Hummingbird created by Eric Bornstein (puppet in the background created by Paul Vincent Davis)

Betsy and other Cranberry Puppets created by Puppet Showplace Theatre founder Mary Churchill

Rob Roy created by Paul Vincent Davis

Lion created by Puppet Showplace Theatre founder Mary Churchill, shown with a friend of the Showplace, Jim Henson