"Raccoon Tales"

Behind the Scenes at PST: Raccoon Tales

Paul Vincent Davis, creator of Raccoon Tales
Raccoon Tales, Not Tails

Greetings, Readers!  In honor of Thanksgiving - which we all know is tied for "Best Holiday of the Year" with Christmas because you get to sample so many different kinds of pies (*insert happy "YAY!" here*) - we're bustin' out some of our favorite stories, each seasoned with a dash of food-themed fun.

We begin the yummy, finger-lickin' season with Raccoon Tales by Paul Vincent Davis, performed by PST artist-in-residence Brad Shur, which, we think, will inspire you to create a family folklore of your own - with the help of some tribal tricksters, of course.

About the Show...

What better way to bring in the holiday season with a show inspired by Native American tales of the Seneca Tribe?  That's right!  Thanksgiving's (basically) just around the corner and we're celebrating with Raccoon Tales.  Based on tales such as "How the Fox and the Raccoon Trick Each Other," "Why the Blue Jay is Blue and the Gray Wolf Isn’t," and "Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail," Raccoon Tales is guaranteed to get you in a "thankful" mood.

Yes, see what happens when the animals from the forest play tricks on each other. Will they learn their lessons? Boy, we hope so because!

Its History...

Although our artist-in-residence Brad Shur is performing Raccoon Tales this week, the show was first created by Paul Vincent Davis in the late 60's - one of the six shows commissioned by the New York Town/Park Department.  Drawing inspiration from a humorous collection of Native American tales called Skunny Wundy, written by Arthur C. Parker, Paul prepared the show in a year, with puppet making help from friend, Karen Larson.
The "Inspiration"
Of course, the show due at PST this week is Paul's third revision.  That's right.  Paul loved Raccoon Tales so much - more than the other five shows he was commissioned to do - that he thought, "Let me make some changes.  So, how did the show change?  Well, it used to be that the puppets were glove puppets with Styrofoam heads, but then Paul changed them into glove puppets with paper mache heads - all handcrafted with faux fur.
Paul's Hand Puppets
You may be wondering: why glove puppets?  Well, in case you didn't know, they're Paul's signature - his "thing."  For the longest time, he's been fascinated by glove puppets because they're the hardest puppets to manipulate.  Seems strange, right, to enjoy something so challenging?  Wrong.  Paul loves a challenge - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  As a puppeteer, he believes in communicating through movement - to use a puppet's entire body to showcase what it feels about what it's saying - and it takes a lot of work to do so with glove puppets.  Of course, Paul's so invested in his work - studying his art - that he's, in a way, mastered it.
Paul, performing an earlier version of Raccoon Tales
Now, when Paul handed down Raccoon Tales to Brad, he was a little nervous, not because he thought Brad was a "bad" puppeteer but because he was asking him, this other person, to do the show in his voice.  One of the reasons why Paul was so invested in Raccoon Tales during its earlier run was because he wrote the script using his own sense of humor - his own voice.  Of course, after meeting Brad and seeing how much of a fast-thinker he is, Paul gave him his blessing.

And the Man Behind the Raccoon...

Paul is widely recognized as one of the foremost hand puppeteers in the country.  Not to mention, he's a great artist, writer, etc.

One of Paul's sketches
Paul joined the PST team in 1977 as its artist-in-residence and has been part of its history since then.  He has received many 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.  In addition to performing, Paul has taught at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  Pretty impressive, eh?  Well, he's also served as a faculty member and on the Board of Overseers for the Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.  With a resume like this, we're proud to call Paul "family!"

Paul, surrounded by clowns (literally)
Oh, and be sure to keep your eyes open!  Paul's been writing a book - working title Glove Puppets: Fantasy and Realism Hand in Hand.  "It's almost done," he says.  There was a minor setback when his computer lost the pages, but our wonderful artist-in-residence Brad Shur saved every file.  The finished work is being proofread, so we hope to see it on shelves soon!

And Finally...

Be sure to come on down to PST this week to see Raccoon Tales.  Tickets can be purchases online HERE.

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

Food and Folktales at PST!

PST Feast of Food and Folktales 2012!
November 1 - December 2
View Show Calendar

With our Halloween Extravaganza coming to an end, we're getting ready for Thanksgiving - a special time that brings families together to share stories while enjoying yummy food!  Take a seat at our table as we present some of our favorite stories, each seasoned with a dash of food-themed fun!


Raccoon Tales by Paul Vincent Davis, performed by Brad Shur, PST Artist-in-Residence
Thursday Nov 1 | 10:30 AM
Friday Nov 2 | 10:30 AM & 3 PM
Saturday and Sunday Nov 3 & 4 | 1 PM & 3 PM


About the Show: The animals in the forest are always getting into trouble, playing tricks on each other. Will they learn their lessons? Three humorous tales inspired by the Native American tales of the Seneca tribe: "How the Fox and the Raccoon Trick Each Other," "Why the Blue Jay is Blue and the Gray Wolf Isn’t," and "Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail." Recommended ages 4 & up. Hand puppets. Tickets: $12/general admission, $8/PST members.

About the Artist: Brad Shur, PST Artist-in-Residence, has been professionally involved in puppetry for over 10 years.  He first began as a performer with the Providence puppet and mask company Big Nazo while he was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design and has toured nationally with Wood & Strings Theatre, a marionette company out of Tennessee.  As a teaching artist, he teaches workshops and classes for students of all ages. 

After-school Activities: PST's After-school Show Series Returns

PST announces Fall 2012  After-school Show Line-up

Starting Friday, October 5, Puppet Showplace Theatre is bringing back its after-school show time series for youth and family audiences. For the remainder of the Fall 2012 season, PST will present a 3:00pm show the first Friday of every month (October 5, November 2, and December 7).

Behind-the-scenes Access:

Ever wonder what goes into a puppet show? Well, you're in luck! Each performance will include a post-show behind-the-scenes puppet demonstration and a Q&A session with the puppeteer. According to Brad Shur, Artist-in-Residence at PST, “These performances are a great opportunity for kids to meet with artists, ask questions, and see how a professional puppet show works!”

Puppet-making Activity:

Following each performance, audience members are also invited to enjoy a FREE puppet making activity. All the materials will be provided by PST, and every child can make their own puppet to take home.

Tickets cost $12 General/$8 PST members/$8.50 for groups of 20 or more.

2012 Fall After-school Puppet Show Season Line-up:

The Magic of Hans Christian Andersen by Applause Unlimited – PST Premier!
October 5 at 3pm

Applause Unlimited celebrates one of the 20th century’s greatest storytellers - Hans Christian Andersen - with this magnificent UNIMA award-winning show. Sometimes serious and heartwarming, sometimes downright silly, but always fun, the show features storytelling and song as well as multiple styles of puppets in three of Andersen’s best loved tales: “The Ugly Duckling,” “Thumbelisa,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Recommended for ages 4 & up.

Raccoon Tales by Paul Vincent Davis, performed by Brad Shur, PST Artist-in-Residence.
November 2 at 3pm

The animals in the forest are always getting into trouble playing tricks on each other. Will they learn their lessons? Three humorous tales, inspired by just-so-stories of the Seneca tribe, combine in this delightful show: How the Fox and the Raccoon Trick Each Other; Why the Blue Jay is Blue and the Gray Wolf Isn’t; and, Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail. Hand puppets. Recommended for ages 4 & up

Tales of Beatrix Potter by Applause Unlimited – PST Premier!
December 7 at 3pm

A solo puppeteer/storyteller explores the fantasy world of one of Victorian England's best-known authors and illustrators. Set in an old-fashioned nursery, this performance includes three favorite Beatrix Potter stories as seen through the eyes of a young English girl growing up at the beginning of the twentieth century. As she pursues the everyday activities of playing and learning, the tales of "Two Bad Mice", "Jeremy Fisher", and "Jemima Puddleduck" seem to grow from her imagination. Hand, Rod, and Shadow puppets. Recommended for ages 4 & up.

Tickets Coming Soon! 

Raccoon Tales by Brad Shur

"Raccoon Tales" by Brad Shur

Weds, Thurs, & Sat | July 20, 21, & 23 | 10:30 am & 1 pm
$8/Members, $10/General Admission

About the show: The animals in the forest are always getting into trouble playing tricks on each other. Will they learn their lessons? The show includes three humorous tails inspired by the Native American tales of the Seneca Tribe: How the Fox and the Raccoon Trick EachOther; Why the Blue Jay is Blue and the Gray Wolf Isn't; and, Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail.

Hand Puppets, Recommended for ages 4 +

About the performer: Brad Shur, artist in residence at PST, has been professionally involved in puppetry for nearly 10 years. As a fan of all types of puppetry, Brad has built and performed with rod puppets, hand puppets, shadow puppets, larger-than-life costume puppets, Japanese bunraku puppets and marionettes. His shows are high energy blends where at least a few of these styles come together with storytelling, original scripts, and lots of audience participation.

You can catch Brad at least twice monthly at Puppet Showplace Theatre, performing any one of six shows in his repertoire: "Raccoon Tales," "Here Come the Clowns," "The Singing Turtle," "Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine," "The Carrot Salesman," and his newest production "The Magic Soup and Other Tales."

Brad is also an experienced teacher and offers workshops and classes for all ages on site at PST or private bookings in addition to extended residencies. This programming includes shadow, hand, and rod puppets, or custom workshops. Click
here for more info!

(Brad Shur and participants from Summer Saturday Workshop Series, July 2011)

A Summer of Puppet Fun!

Please note that our performance schedule has changed for the months of July and August. During the Summer we will be hosting 5 performances per week; Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 AM and 1:00 PM, Sundays at 1:00 PM. The Puppet Showplace Theatre Box Office will be closed on Mondays and Saturdays throughout the Summer. Tickets can always be purchased online here.

And don't miss a special July 4th performance of Raccoon Tales by Brad Shur!