"fun things to do with your kids"

Snowy Stories Series Begins at Puppet Showplace!

Snowy Stories: Dec 5-Jan 2 (VIEW CALENDAR)

This December through January, Puppet Showplace presents a series of puppet shows for the whole family that feature snowy stories and holiday themed fun! Enjoy original tales like "Squirrel Stole My Underpants!" by Bonnie Duncan, to classic stories like "Hansel and Gretel" and "Peter and the Wolf." How many "Snowy Stories" will you see this holiday season?!

The series kicks-off with a HILARIOUS glove puppet show by puppeteer and children's librarian, Sparky Davis! Baby Emma the bulldog and friends host a cabaret of short snowy-themed folktales for the whole family. SERIOUSLY. This show will have the little ones AND the adults in stitches!

"Tales from Snowy Lands" 
by Sparky's Puppets

Thu & Fri, December 5 & 6 @ 10:30 am
Sat & Sun December 7 & 8 @ 1:00 & 3:00 pm


About the show: Sparky's Puppets perform a lively medley of stories that all take place on a winter's day. Watch Jack Frost's magic bring a snowman to life. Find out what happens when a boastful bear goes ice fishing. And laugh at the antics of three pesky goblins as they visit a toy maker's shop on a cold and snowy day. Lots of audience interaction, clever word play, and skillful puppet performance make this a a fun and memorable show!

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!"

Halloween Extravaganza at Puppet Showplace!

Celebrate spooky stories this Halloween at Puppet Showplace with two special events on Halloween Night!

Trick or Treat! Thursday, October 31, 4 to 7pm

Tricker-treaters of all ages are invited to drop-in between 4pm and 7pm Halloween night for an open-house event with free refreshments, activities and prizes! Come make your own Halloween-themed puppet, show off your costume with Bella Monster, and meet Dr. Doohickey and explore his monster laboratory. No reservations required, and this event is free!

Spooky Story Slam! Thursday, October 31, 8 to 10pm


Forget kitten costumes and candy corn...Halloween is a time to get scared! Witness the dark side of traditional folklore as MassMouth's professional storytellers duke it out in an uncensored scary story showdown. Not frightening enough? Spooky gets REAL as audience members take the stage to tell their own first-person accounts of the supernatural, spooky, and surreal. From apparitions to zombies (and everything in between) this is a night you won't want to miss!

BREAKING NEWS: Halloween fun takes over Puppet Showplace!

Halloween Extravaganza! 
October 18 - November 3, 2013

Puppet Showplace presents three exciting shows this Halloween season featuring silly spooks,

furry monsters, and seasonal sing-a-longs! Audience members are encouraged to attend performances in costume. First up in the the series is a festive marionette cabaret by Emmy Award Nominated Wayne Martin Puppets.

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice ( and Halloween Hijinks!)" by Wayne Martin Puppets 
Friday Oct 18 @ 10:30 am
Saturday and Sunday October 19 &20 @ 1:00 and 3:00 pm


About the show: Join the Wayne Martin Puppets for a seasonal sampling of Halloween-inspired fun! Get transported to the world of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," where a young wizard-in-training tries unsuccessfully to use magic to do his chores. This original adaptation, set to classical music, dances to life with a cast of enchanting hand, rod, and shadow puppets. Then, enjoy a selection of Wayne Martin's award-winning marionettes in a variety revue featuring scarecrows, witches, pumpkins, ghosts, and other Halloween friends!

All main stage shows at Puppet Showplace are recommended for ages 3 & up. Contact the Box Office at 617-731-6400 x 101 for more detailed recommendations!

About the performer: Martin began his interest in puppetry as a hobby at the tender age of three and a half. By age eight, he had formed his own company, The Wayne Martin Puppets and turned full-time professional.

At the top of his profession for nearly forty years now, Wayne’s credits include guest appearances with Symphony Orchestras and work as principal manipulator for industry greats, the Heiken Puppets, Sid and Marty Krofft Productions and Jim Henson’s Muppets, among others.

Martin has been featured in numerous award winning television programs and commercials. These include critically acclaimed educational and training films and his very own television series and specials that have earned him two Emmy Award nominations.

Wayne Martin’s first love remains live performance. He has toured Canada, Europe and Australia and presents his one-man variety revue hundreds of times each year across the United States. His unique style of showmanship has been instrumental in broadening the appeal of the puppet show in this country and it's acceptance as true theatre art enjoyed by adults and children alike. Having designed and built over two thousand puppets to date, Martin's act has appeared with such established artists as Bob Hope, Dolly Parton, The 5th Dimension and The Temptations.

Learn more about Wayne Martin Puppets HERE

Can beans make wishes come true?

UP NEXT: 3rd Annual Fall Fairy Tale Festival Continues...

"Jack and the Beanstalk" 
by Spring Valley Puppet Theater 
Fri, October 4 at 10:30 a.m.
Sat & Sun, October 5 & 6 at 1:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.


Bound up the beanstalk with Jack this week at Puppet Showplace! This exciting traditional retelling of the classic story is brought to life by Michael Graham of Spring Valley Puppet Theater from New Haven, CT. That's right, Michael is the magician behind the stage making the story come to life right before your eyes! How does he do it? Find out after the show when he brings out all of your favorite characters for a show and tell, question and answer demonstration.

About the show: Can beans make wishes come true? They can and do in "Jack and the Beanstalk," the award-winning puppet production of Michael Graham's Spring Valley Puppet Theater. When Jack trades the family cow for a few magic beans — which grow into a beanstalk overnight — he climbs it to find adventure and fortune. Along the way he meets a feisty and funny chicken, a magic singing harp, and one real rat of a giant. This popular classic features beautifully crafted hand and rod puppets, colorful scenic design, special effects, and an original script in which Jack, with the help of a clever chicken, saves the day!

About the performer: Michael Graham has performed with puppets since he was a young boy. He founded the Spring Valley Puppet Theater in 1977. Since then, he has performed throughout New England, primarily for schools and libraries. His work has been featured numerous times at regional and national festivals of the Puppeteers of America, and he is a recipient of the prestigious UNIMA citation of excellence. Michael designs and makes all of his puppets by hand, writes his own scripts, creates the scenery, and performs many of the voices.

He graduated from Western Connecticut State College with a degree in Elementary Education and Spanish, and has created many bilingual adaptations of folk tales. Michael has been a guest instructor at the University of Connecticut Puppet Arts program, the Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts (IPPA) at the O'Neill Theatre Center, and has presented casting and hand puppet construction workshops for puppetry guilds in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Learn more about Michael Graham and Spring Valley Puppet Theater: CLICK HERE

Ahoy Tharrrrr Land lovers!

UP NEXT: 3rd Annual Fall Fairy Tale Festival Continues...

"The Pirate, the Princess and the Pea" 
by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre
Sept 28 & 29 (Sat, Sun) at 1:00 & 3:00pm

Our Fall Fairy Tale Festival continues this weekend with an exciting twist on a classic tale! You've heard of "The Princess and the Pea" before, right? Well, what if there was a PIRATE in the story? 

Find out what happens this weekend when a pirate and a princess look for buried treasure in this brand new swash-buckeling tale by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre of Vermont.

About the show:  In "The Pirate, The Princess, and the Pea," Crabgrass Puppet Theatre presents a thrilling voyage chock full of sea monsters, shipwrecks, and mistaken pirate/princess identities. A pirate and a princess are on a treasure hunt, searching for the same clues. The princess stays one step ahead by tricking the pirate at every turn. But when the princess is in danger from a giant octopus, she quickly discovers the benefit of having a loyal crew! Featuring colorful scenery, multiple styles of puppetry, and original pirate songs, you won't want to miss the boat on this fun adventure tale!

About the performer: Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall formed Crabgrass Puppet Theatre in San Francisco in 1982 and have delighted audiences across the nation with their whimsical humor and puppetry ever since. Their performing venues have included the Detroit Institute of Art, the Smithsonian, Paper Mill Playhouse, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They have been awarded two Citations of Excellence from UNIMA-USA, the highest puppetry award in the United States, and in 2009, Bonny Hall was awarded a Design Commendation from the Arlyn Award Foundation. 

Discover more about Crabgrass Puppet Theatre on their website: CLICK HERE

Save the Planet with Puppets!

A marionette made from recycled materials!

Build Your Own Recycled Puppets
With Brenda Huggins, PST Teaching Artist
Saturday February 2, 10:30 am - 12:00 PM

Cost: $15/Individual; $10/Member
*Children under age 13 must participate with a parent or guardian.  Recommended for ages 5 & up


Climate Action Week continues in Brookline through Feb 3rd, and Puppet Showplace Theatre is excited to participate with a SUPER FUN puppet making workshop!

Have you ever wondered what to do with those old jeans with holes and rips, or have a pillow that is not fluffy or comfortable to sleep on and more? Or maybe your recycling bin is piling up with cardboard and plastic bottles, and you have always wondered if maybe there was a more creative way to Reduce, Re-use, Recycle than just dropping the bin at the curb?

Join us for an all-ages workshop on Saturday to learn how to turn materials already in your home into creative characters that come to life! No need to stop by the craft store, or spend tons of money on a bolt of fabric!  All materials are included for this hands-on, all-ages workshop. Each participant will make a puppet from recycled materials to take home.

Teaching Artist, Brenda Huggins is today's guest blogger.  Let's find out what to expect during class on Saturday:

by Guest Blogger, Brenda Huggins

Brenda Huggins and her puppet Bella Monster, made by
Jon Little of Little's Creatures.
I love the idea that "any thing can be a puppet." It is a catch phrase that I use often in my teaching, and I am sure I picked it up from an immersion in puppetry education programs at PST for the past three years.  Often when I teach puppetry, I begin with "Object Theatre", or the idea that any everyday object can become "alive" when the puppeteer discovers how it can move, how it looks around in its environment, how it breathes, and perhaps even what its voice sounds like.  These are the fundamental basics of puppetry manipulation.  Why is this important in a puppet building class?  As a puppet builder, I like to think about how the characters I am creating will exist in the world, as this greatly inspires their design and the materials they will be made out of.

Yes, the MATERIALS! Let's talk about the materials, because that is why we are here isn't it?  When we are creating puppets from recycled, or re-purposed materials, the goal is to take an everyday object and be inspired to transform that object into something new-and also perhaps save a little money from not having to buy brand new materials at the craft or fabric store.  It is also a FANTASTIC way to recycle materials you wouldn't even think to recycle.  How many times have you thrown out an old shirt because it had a stain or rip in it? I know many of us are very good about donating clothing to Good Will or other second hand shops, but what do you do with those old things that cannot be resold?  Instead of flooding landfills with these precious textiles, let's make puppets!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as seen in "Puppet Playtime"
When I am building puppets, I LOVE to be inspired by the materials I will be working with, especially the textiles.  Maybe this comes from my work as a costume designer.  As an example, some of the most recent puppets I built are for a new program at PST called "Puppet Playtime." The materials I used are  a towel and recycled clothing  (I have a huge suitcase full of cut up clothes and other goodies for crafty projects! I can't wait to share it with you!) To create the character of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, I used a bright green towel for the body, and created three dimensional spots by cutting circles out of a dress shirt I have from when I was in college. (I will admit that was almost 10 years ago! I held onto the shirt, because the fabric was so beautiful and I just HAD to use it for a fabulous crafting project!)

Join me on Saturday for an hour and a half of recycling, creation, and play! I can't wait to see each of your unique pieces of art come to life!


PST Premieres New Interactive Show for Tiny Tots!

Children interact with the performers, Phil Berman
and Brenda Huggins

What IS "Puppet Playtime?"

Two 5-week sessions: Weds @ 10:30am
Jan 16 - Feb 13; Feb 27 - Mar 27


Puppet Playtime is a fun, interactive performance experience designed for very young children - ages 0 to 3.  In each hour-long sessions, two friendly performers guide children (and the grown-ups) through free play, sing-a-longs, stories, and imagination-based games.  Puppet characters, like our very own Bella Monster, appear throughout the performance to introduce the theme of the day - and to just join in on the fun.

We are excited to have Puppet Playtime performer, Phil Berman talk about the show, and give a sneak-peek into the first session, Jan 16th at 10:30am.


Phil Berman
Hi everybody! My name is Phil Berman; one third of the collaborative team behind PUPPET PLAYTIME, Puppet Showplace Theatre’s new programming for toddlers and tiny tots. My partners in crime Bella Monster and her puppeteer Brenda Huggins have been hard at work with me these past few months preparing this ten show series for very young audiences in Brookline and throughout the Boston metro area.

When PST Artistic Director Roxanna Myhrum first approached me last summer about creating this series, I was both excited by the challenge to write, rehearse and perform ten new shows in a relatively short period of time. As Brenda, Bella Monster and I continue to work on the series, the creating part is not only moving faster but also getting more fun!

Having tough deadlines is pushing me as a composer and playwright to generate a consistent flow of new material that I can develop on my feet in front of an audience every week. I’m having a blast writing a new kids song for each session to perform with Brenda and Bella. It’s also incredibly inspiring to be creating new puppet plays with Mary Churchill’s beautiful crocheted glove puppets. Her puppets have brought joy to generations of young audiences and I’m honored to help bring these characters back to life in brand new adventures.

Bella and her Magical Story Box!
After about 15 minutes of free play, each session of PUPPET PLAYTIME begins with a Sing-Along with Brenda and me. We’re then joined by Bella Monster and her Magical Story Box, where we discover three objects that inspire us to tell stories and sing songs based on the theme of the day. Our first theme is “An Adventure in the Night Sky”: you may recognize some classic sing-along songs about twinkling stars, as well as a jazzy new song sung by a backpack; we’ll fly through the stars and dance on the moon and be back in time for a starlit puppet bedtime story all before noon!

Keep checking the Puppet Showplace blog for more posts about future PUPPET PLAYTIME shows and updates. I’ll see you at the theater!


More about the performers:

The masterminds who developed Puppet Playtime are Phil Berman and Brenda Huggins.  They're also the performers - with special appearances by Bella Monster!  

Phil, Bella, and Brenda!
Phil is a Boston-based actor, guitarist, and dramaturg who loves writing original music for kids.  In addition to performing at PST many-a-times, Phil is also a member of the puppet company Free Hands Productions, with whom he created "The First Person to Consider the Sun" and "Three Blessed Brothers." Phil has a BFA from Boston University.

Brenda is an educator and theatre artist who has taught puppetry classes to students of all ages throughout the greater Boston area - and she is our very own Communications Director.  She received her MA in theatre education at Emerson College after studying vocal performance at Western Connecticut State University.  Her work as a director, costume designer, and solo performer has been seen throughout the New England area. 

Bella Monster was created by Jonathan Little of Little's Creatures and has been PST's "Monster-in-Residence since 2011.  She enjoys puppet shows, singing, and the color pink.

Dec Vacation Week Continues with TWO Shows by Barefoot Puppets

Barefoot Puppets Founder and Director,
Heidi Rugg. Photo by Warren Johnson.

Remember those awesome puppet shows from last year, "Galapagos George" or "The Little Bread Hen?" Fan favorite, Barefoot Puppets returns this week for our December Vacation Extravaganza with TWO NEW SHOWS!

Little Red & the Gingerbread Man
Mon Dec 24 | 10:30 AM 1 PM & 3 PM
Wed Dec 26 Thur Dec 27 & Fri Dec 28 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM

Dreamtime: Tales from Down Under
Sat Dec 29 & Sun Dec 30 | 1 PM & 3 PM
Mon Dec 31 & Tues Jan 1 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM



"Little Red & the Gingerbread Man"
You know what's good to hear - two for one! And that's exactly what we've got for ya - two tales rolled into one. Join Little Red as she pursues a mischievous Gingerbread Cookie through the woods to Grandmother's house. Original music, snowy scenery, and everyone's favorite, the Big Bad Wolf, make this seasonal favorite.

"Dreamtime: Tales from Down Under"
Emus, crocodiles and frogs -- oh my! Experience the magic of "The Land Down Under" in this performance inspired by Aboriginal folktales. Learn more about some truly unusual animals as a mother platypus tries to get her young one to sleep by sharing three stories from the Australian Dreamtime. In these "How and Why" tales, you'll learn how the emu became a flightless bird and why the platypus looks so strange. In the final story, you'll meet a giant, bloated, ocean-swallowing frog, and perhaps get invited onstage to help bring the water back!


"Dreamtime: Tales from Down Under"
Barefoot Puppet Theatre has been building and performing original works since 1997 when founder and director, Heidi Rugg, began building puppet shows from the basement of her home in Richmond, Virginia. The first show she originally designed to fit in the back of a Volkswagon Golf! From these humble beginnings, the company (and the the touring vehicle) has grown significantly and now tours nationally while continuing to create new works for young audiences and their families.

A Jill-of-all-trades, Heidi finds that puppeteering allows her to integrate her love of stories with her love of art. She began building puppets in elementary school to fulfill requirements for visual aids for book reports. Who knew that a puppet company would grow from homework?

Now Heidi writes, builds, and directs all shows. She also performs in most of the shows and leads workshops on puppet building and puppetry skills. Heidi has become well-known for her puppet voices, her innovative puppet mechanisms, and original designs. She loves coming up with ideas for new shows and working with a variety of media (especially hand-made papers, raw silk, and slinkies).

Find out more about Barefoot Puppet Theatre on their website: CLICK HERE

Behind the Scenes at PST: Hansel and Gretel

An illustration by Arthur Rackham (1909)

A Fairytale Comes To Life

Welcome back, readers! We thought since it's December, which is basically the most wonderful and magical time of the year, we would show a fairytale this week, one you may remember reading as a child: "Hansel and Gretel."

And who better to put on a show like that than the father-and-son (well, more like sons) team over at National Marionette Theatre, who - for years - have been bringing some of our favorite fairytales to life?

Yes, children and adults alike will be dazzled by the performances of the National Marionette Theatre. You don't believe me? Probably because you've never seen one of their shows. Well, let's take a look at their work, then - past and present.

About The Show...

You all know the story of "Hansel and Gretel," right? Well, in case you don't - Hansel and Gretel are a young brother and sister threatened by a cannibalistic witch living deep in the forest in a house constructed of cake and confectionery. The two children give into their temptations and fall for the witch's trick, but eventually save their lives by outwitting her. Yes, the joke's on the witch when Hansel and Gretel push her into the oven - as she intended to do with them (yuck!).

Hansel and Gretel, lost in the dark forest 

Now, you probably read "Hansel and Gretel" while you were growing up, but you certainly haven't seen it like this - on stage! The National Marionatte Theatre, which is made up of David A. Syrotiak Sr. and his two sons, David J. and Peter, have been dazzling audiences for many, many years now.

Hansel and Gretel, startled by the "Old Woman" 

"Hansel and Gretel" is one of the many fairytales in their rotation and has captured the imagination of audiences for generations. In their adaptation, two master puppeteers bring one of the most famous of the Grimm Brothers' stories to life. The show features exquisitely crafted marionettes, scrolling scenery and the beautiful music of Engelbert Humperdinck - from his 1893 opera, Hänsel und Gretel.

And The Family Of Performers...

As I mentioned before, the National Marionette Theatre is made up of a family of performers - literally. David A. Syrotiak Sr. and his two sons, David J. and Peter, work together to put on some of the most spectacular shows ever.

The Guys
David Sr., a self-made puppeteer, has rightfully won the honorary title of "Master Puppeteer."  He has dedicated his entire life to the field of puppetry, which he came to love at a very young age.  During his teens, he got his first job working with Suzari Marionettes and, later on, worked alongside the Krofft Brothers and Bil Baird during the 1965 Worlds Fair in New York.  David Sr. eventually started doing his own line of work and founded the National Marionette Theatre in 1967.  He has worked and toured extensively in many parts of the world and his work has earned him many awards including the UNIMA award for excellence in the field of puppetry in 1976 for "Art of the Pupeteer" and again in 1997 for his adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast."  As Artistic Director of the National Marionette Theatre, some of David Sr.'s favorite aspects of puppetry are painting, sculpting, and, of course, performing.

David Jr., like his father, has been around puppets all of his life.  When he was just twelve-years-old, he was recruited as an emergency understudy for the National Marionette Theatre's production of "Art of the Pupeteer."  David Jr. formally joined the company in 1984and has toured both in and out of the States.  Along the way, he has taken time off to work with other companies including Vagabond Marionettes, The Bennington Puppets, The Center for Puppetry Arts, and Bil Baird's Marionettes.  Aside from performing and managing the company, David Jr. is also an accomplished wood carver, sculptor, and costumer.

"Sleeping Beauty" and "Pinocchio"
Peter, much like his brother and his father, has also been around puppets all of his life.  Since he was old enough to hold a piece of sandpaper, he has always lent a hand in the shop, building marionettes, sets, and props for the company.  He formally joined the company in 1989 with the production of "Christmas Dream" and has been touring in and out of the States, building puppets, and performing ever since.

Together, the Syrotiaks (a.k.a. National Marionette Theatre) have staged some of the most beautiful shows ever.  In addition to "Hansel and Gretel," they have also brought other fairytales to life, including: "Sleeping Beauty" and "Pinocchio" - both of which have been great successes.  

With the help of intricate designs - in their puppets, sets, and costumes - and (sometimes) music - like using Tchaikovsky's ballet for Sleeping Beauty - their shows are guaranteed to "wow" audiences of all ages.  Correction: they have "wow-ed" audiences of all ages.  

If you have yet to see one of their shows, then we recommend you head on over to PST this week and see "Hansel and Gretel."  You won't be disappointed.  We promise!  Tickets can be purchased online HERE.  

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

Vacation week begins with Hansel & Gretel


Hansel & Gretel
by National Marionette Theatre
Thur & Fri Dec 20 & 21 10:30 AM
Sat & Sun Dec 22 & 23 | 1 PM & 3 PM


Cake and confectionary are the enemy here as an evil witch uses them to trick two siblings into having dinner with her...as the main course!

About the ShowThe story of "Hansel and Gretel" has captured the imagination of audiences for generations. In their adaptation of this classic tale, two master puppeteers of the National Marionette Theatre bring the most famous of the Grimm Brother’s stories to life.  Featuring exquisitely crafted marionettes, scrolling scenery, and the beautiful music of Engelbert Humperdinck, "Hansel and Gretel" is sure to delight adults and children alike!
Marionettes, recommended ages 5 & up

About the PerformerNational Marionette Theatre is one of the oldest continually running marionette theaters in the United States. Founded in 1967 by artistic director David A. Syrotiak, this award-winning company has been entertaining audiences around the world with their extraordinary productions for over forty years. Noted for their amazing manipulation technique and imaginative fully staged productions, National Marionette Theater is committed to bringing you the very best in family entertainment. The company has received critical acclaim both here in the United States and abroad and was the first American Marionette Theater to receive the prestigious UNIMA award for excellence in puppetry.  

David and Peter Syrotiak have been building and performing with the company since their teenage years. As the sons of artistic director David Syrotiak the two brothers have been around puppetry all their lives. Professionally they have over fifty years of combined performance experience between them. The two are dedicated to keeping the tradition of professional puppetry alive in the United States.

Behind the Scenes at PST: Tales From Snowy Lands

Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Greetings, readers! In case you haven't noticed, there hasn't been much snow lately, which is both shocking and sad because this is New England and we deserve our very own Winter Wonderland, right? Well, I guess if Mother Nature refuses to do her job, then we'll just have to find someone else to make it snow - oh, wait!  We've already got someone: Sparky Davis, who returns to PST to perform Tales From Snowy Lands, Dec 13-16. BUY TICKETS

From Story Lover to Storyteller 

A scene from Aesop's Fables
If this is your first time seeing a show by Sparky's Puppets, then I have but one thing to say to you: you are in for a treat because Sparky is a gifted storyteller!  For over thirty years, she has been "wow-ing" children and adults alike throughout the New England area - in schools, libraries, festivals, etc.  She has passed through very well-known venues such as The Boston Children's Museum, First Night Providence, The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum, and our very own PST. 

A scene from Old favorites
Thanks to an impressive education - degrees in English (B.A., Mt. Holyoke College), Education (M.A.T., Brown University), and Library Science (M.L.S., University of Rhode Island) - Sparky developed a love for storytelling way before she started doing puppet shows.  It was while she was working as a children's librarian that she decided to go into entertainment.

What a great transition, huh?  Going from librarian to entertainer - story lover to storyteller.  Yes, it's because she has such a vast background in stories that Sparky's able to perform such delightful shows for her audiences.

Some of her adaptations include: Aesop's Fables, The Gingerbread Man, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Three Little Pigs - all of which have been very well received, which is no surprise because Sparky has mastered her craft, not only because she's performed for so long but because she loves what she does.  It's her love of stories that makes her such a wonderful storyteller.

Of course, you'll have to see it to believe it.  With Christmas just 'round the corner, we thought it would be best to invite Sparky's Puppets back to the PST stage to put on a holiday-themed show.  You won't wanna miss it because it'll get you in a festive mood!

Tales From Snowy Lands

Tales From Snowy Lands is one of Sparky's three holiday-themed shows - the other two being Halloween Harvest and Easter Fun.  Just in time for the holidays, this show brings together several beloved tales - a.k.a. your favorite holiday classics, including "Jack Frost" and "The Shoemaker and the Elves."  And what would a holiday show be without Santa and his favorite reindeer friend, Rudolph?  Yes, that's right.  Santa makes an appearance, too!

So, if you're looking to escape to a marvelous Winter Wonderland, then we suggest you come on down to PST this week to see Sparky's Puppets perform Tales From Snowy Lands.  It'll be a wonderful treat.  In case you haven't done so already, tickets can be purchased online HERE.

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

Tales From Snowy Lands at PST!


Tales From Snowy Lands
by Sparky's Puppets
Thurs & Fri Dec 13 & 14 10:30 AM
Sat & Sun Dec 15 & 16 | 1 PM & 3 PM


With just a few short weeks to go till Christmas, we thought it would be best to invite some of our holiday friends to PST, including Jack Frost.

About the ShowSparky's Puppets perform a lively medley of stories that take place on a winter's day. Watch Jack Frost's magic bring a snowman to life.  Find out what happens when a boastful bear goes ice fishing.  And laugh at the antics of three pesky goblins as they visit a toy maker's show on a cold and snowy day.
Hand puppets, recommended ages 3 & up

About the Performer: 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, Davis creates a special show for the statewide public libraries' summer reading program. She loves to see children's reactions as their favorite stories are brought to life with endearing puppet characters. A preschool child at a recent show was heard to say. "It was so funny I burst out laughing!"

Behind the Scenes at PST: Tales of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter at her country home

Harry's Not the Only Potter Around...

Hard to imagine there being another Potter, right?  Well, there is.  Can you guess who she is?  I think you got it: Beatrix Potter - you know, the woman who wrote the beloved Tale of Peter Rabbit.  Yes, the moment we hear her name, that cute rabbit, the one that wears a blue coat, pops into our heads, which is why we sometimes forget that Potter wrote other tales about other animals, too - some of which you will see in Applause Unlimited's Tales of Beatrix Potter, at PST Dec 6-9.  (BUY TICKETS).

Now, if you're not too familiar with the other tales of Beatrix Potter - don't worry.  I'm here to give you a little history lesson - one which you'll enjoy.  I promise!

About Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter - born Helen Beatrix Potter - was an English author and illustrator best known for her imaginative children's books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which celebrated British landscape and the countryside.

Born into a privileged family, Potter was exposed to things like art at an early age - as her parents were artists.  She was educated by a private governess until she was eighteen.  Her study of languages, literature, science, and history was broad and she was an eager student.  Her artistic talents were recognized early and although she was provided with private lessons, Potter preferred to develop her own style, particularly favoring watercolor.

Following some success illustrating cards and booklets, Potter wrote and illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which she published privately in 1901, and a year later as a small, three-color illustrated book with Frederick Warne & Co.

The Many Tales of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter wrote a total of 23 tales - the first being The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), which was an immediate success.  Others that followed include: The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904), The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (1906), and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908) - all of which are featured in Applause Unlimited's show, The Tales of Beatrix Potter.

Potter's Illustrations

The Tale of Two Bad Mice tells the story of two mice who vandalize a dollhouse.  After realizing the food on the dining room table is made of plaster, they smash the dishes, throw the doll clothing out the window, tear the bolster, and steal some of the house's decor, taking them back to their mouse-hole.  When the little girl who owns the dollhouse discovers the destruction, she puts a policeman doll outside the front door of her house to ward off any future intrusion.  The two mice eventually feel guilty and make up for their crime spree by putting a crooked sixpence in the doll's stocking on Christmas Eve and sweeping the house every morning with a dust-pan and broom.

The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher tells the story of a frog who lives in a "slippy-sloppy" house at the edge of a pond.  One rainy day he collects worms for fishing and sets off across the pond on his lily-pad boat.  He plans to invite his friends for dinner if he catches more than five minnows.  He encounters all sorts of setbacks to his goal, and escapes a large trout who tries to swallow him.  He swims for shore, decides he will not go fishing again, and hops home.

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck tells the story of a domestic duck whose eggs are routinely confiscated by the farmer's wife because she believes Jemima is a poor sitter.  Jemima searches for a place away from the farm where she can hatch her eggs without human interference, and naively confides her woes to a suave fox who invites her to nest in a shed at his home.  Jemima accepts his invitation, unaware of the following danger: the fox plans to kill and roast her.  Kep, a collie on the farm, discovers Jemima's whereabouts and rescues her just in time.

Applause Unlimited's Adaptation

Applause Unlimited offers a wide range of performances featuring fresh presentations of classic tales. Their approach includes masks, storytelling, music, and comedy in a unique combination that quietly educates as it entertains. Applause Unlimited has performed at festivals and in theaters worldwide. Their shows have been acclaimed by audiences, educators, producers, and sponsors of children's and family entertainment - receiving two Citations Of Excellence from the Union Internionale de la Marionette.

In their adaptation of Beatrix Potter's beloved tales - Applause Unlimited 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.  

If you love animals, especially ones that have a habit of getting into all kinds of adventures, then be sure to come on down to PST this week to see Applause Unlimited bring some of Beatrix Potter's beloved tales to life!  You will love it.  That is a promise.

The Tales of Beatrix Potter at PST!


The Tales of Beatrix Potter
by Applause Unlimited

Thurs Dec 6 | 10:30 AM
Fri Dec 7 | 10:30 AM & 3 PM*
Sat & Sun Dec 8 & 9 | 1 PM & 3 PM
*Free demo and puppet making activity after the show!


December's here and the cold weather's got some animals taking shelter here at PST, including a duck and two bad mice!

About the Show: 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 ages 5 & up

About the Performer: Applause Unlimited offers a wide range of performances featuring fresh presentations of classic tales. Their approach includes masks, storytelling, music, and comedy in a unique combination that quietly educates as it entertains. Applause Unlimited has performed at festivals and in theaters worldwide. Their shows have been acclaimed by audiences, educators, producers, and sponsors of children's and family entertainment - receiving two Citations Of Excellence from the Union Internionale de la Marionette.

Behind the Scenes at PST: Magic Soup & Other Stories

It's Brad!
Not Just Soup, Magic Soup

It's official, folks.  We are just a few short days away from the biggest of all feasts: Thanksgiving - and what better way to celebrate than to continue this year's Feast of Food and Folktales with The Magic Soup & Other Stories  Put another notch on your belt (or switch to elastic waistband pants) because the show returns to PST the day after Thanksgiving and we'll be adding "soup" to your leftovers.      

About the Show...

The Magic Soup & Other Stories is a collection of six short stories - “The Naked Truth and Resplendent Parable,” “The Egg Seller,” “The Very Small House,” “A Coat Poverty,” “Pleasing All the World,” and “The Magic Soup" - all of which are taken from the vibrant Jewish folk traditions of Eastern Europe.  In these short stories, everybody is looking for something - whether it's a bowl of soup or some peace and quiet - and it is those with wit, a sense of humor, and imagination who have a better chance of making their dreams come true.

...And Its Mechanics

I'm sure you're all familiar with our artist-in-residence, Brad Shur.  Well, since I profiled him for "Behind the Scenes at PST: Dr. Doohickey" just a few weeks ago, I thought it would be neat-o to discuss the work he puts into his puppetry - because it's pretty awesome.

Brad using shadow puppets
As of I mentioned before, The Magic Soup & Other Stories is made up of six short stories and they're all unique in their use of puppetry.  In "The Naked Truth and Resplendent Parable," Brad uses table top and rod puppets.  In "The Egg Seller," shadow puppets.  In "The Very Small House," table top, hand, and mouth puppets.  In "A Coat Poverty," shadow puppets.  In "Pleasing All the World," table top puppets.  And in "The Magic Soup," table top puppets.

Now, having named all these styles, you're probably wondering: how do they work?  Well, let's take a look at a few examples, starting with the shadow puppets.  Brad begins by creating his puppets digitally, designing them on his computer and adjusting their sizes accordingly - comparing one puppet to the other so they can all work together.  After he prints, then cuts them out, Brad places his finished work on the over-head projector, which allows the puppets to create large, blown-up shadows.

The reason why Brad uses shadow puppets in, let's say, "The Egg Seller," is because he wanted to create the broad and abstract locations that exist within the story.  With shadow puppets, he is able to do just that - create a sense of place.

As for table top puppets - which you'll see a lot of throughout the show - Brad uses paper mache cast-over foam, which he shapes into any form he so desires, to create a wide variety of cast members, including monsters!  He constructs them in such a way that he is able to be in control - of one part in particular: the head, which he uses to create simple yet elegant and powerful movements.

One of Brad's puppets: The Ugly, Naked Truth!
And what of the characters in The Magic Soup?  Brad had one goal in mind: to transform the space and make magical things come out of said space.  In other words, he took everyday objects like coats and trash cans and transformed them to make his characters exist in a magical, story land.  And it worked!   Brad engineered different materials to look out-of-this-world.  Trust me - when you come to see The Magic Soup, you will find that mundane objects have become magical.

In honor of the Feast of Food and Folktales (and Thanksgiving), be sure to come on down to PST this week to see Brad perform in The Magic Soup & Other Stories.  It's a show you won't want to miss!  In case you haven't done so already, tickets can be purchase online HERE.

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

The Magic Soup at PST!

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

View Show Calendar

It's official, folks!  It's the week of Thanksgiving and we've got a treat for you: soup!  And not any ordinary soup - magical soup.  Before we get into our winter puppet show season, our Feast of Food and Folktales concludes with...


The Magic Soup & Other Stories by Brad Shur
Fri Nov 23 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM
Sat Nov 24 & Sun Nov 25 | 1 PM & 3 PM
And then the following week...
Thur Nov 29 & Fri Nov 30 | 10:30 AM
Sat Dec 1 1 PM & 3 PM
Sun Dec 2 | 1 PM


About the ShowUncle Murray is coming over for dinner, but there's no food in sight! A young man's search for a family recipe ends up bringing folk tales to life...in his kitchen. Based on a collection of traditional Yiddish stories, "The Magic Soup" teaches us that it is those with wit, humor and imagination who have the best chance of filling their bellies - and fulfilling their dreams.

About the Performer: Brad Shur, PST's 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. 

Behind the Scenes at PST: The Day It Snowed Tortillas

It's Snowing...Tortillas?

Get ready, folks.  We're hopping into our time machine and travelling eight months into the future.  That means we'll be going to July, where (more like when) we'll be meeting a poor woodcutter and his wife - both of which are desperate to get rich.  How will they earn that extra cash?  We've got the scoop, much thanks to Crabgrass Puppet Theatre.

About the Show...

The Day It Snowed Tortillas is a show by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre, which we added to our Feast of Food and Folktales repertoire because it's - you know - about tortillas.  Well, it's not just about tortillas.

The show, which is based on the story of the same name, explores the lives of a poor, uneducated woodcutter and his wife.  One day, on his way from work, the woodcutter finds three bags filled with gold.  He takes them home to his wife and she is thrilled, until she realizes the bags most likely belong to someone else and they will come looking for them.  Regardless, she decides to keep them.  Problem is - they would have to keep it a secret, but the husband is a huge blabbermouth!

What to do, what to do?  The wife begins to plot.  She sends her husband to get 100 pounds of flour and later that night, she makes countless tortillas and throws them on the grounds outside their home.  When the husband wakes up the next morning and tells his wife about the tortillas, she says that it must have snowed tortillas.

Some time later, three robbers turn up and demand the wife give them their gold back.  The wife explains she knows nothing about any gold, but the robbers insist her husband told the whole village about the gold.  Again, the wife denies everything and the robbers decide to wait for the husband to return home from school - as his wife sent him there to get an education.  When the husband returns home, the robbers ask him and his wife about the gold.  The wife says she knows nothing about any gold and the husband says, "Don't you remember?  It was the day before it snowed tortillas. I returned home with three bags containing gold, and the next morning, you sent me to school."  Upon hearing this, the robbers assume the husband is crazy and they leave.

...And the Performer

It's no secret: Crabgrass Puppet Theatre is a frequent visitor to PST - and we love it!  In case you didn't know, Crabgrass was founded by Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall.  They met in 1979 while performing in Laughingstock!, a puppet-and-actor production at the University of Connecticut, in which Bonny played Jamie's father.  Three years later, they moved to California and founded Crabgrass Puppet Theatre.  
Jamie and Bonny in 1983

Their first show, What a Clever Ideal, had giant puppets that measured eight feet tall and was selected to perform at the 1983 Pacific Southwest Puppetry Festival.  Their other shows have also featured a variety of innovative and unusual puppets, both large and small.  In Follow That Rabbit, they had a seven-foot crocodile.  In A Renaissance Miracle, they had a smoke-breathing dragon.  And in Crabgrass Uprising!, they has an animated garbage heap.

In 1989, Jamie and Bonny returned to Connecticut.  While there, they re-established their connection with the University of Connecticut, which paid dividends when UConn graduate David Regan joined the company in 1996 to design and perform in The Frog Prince and The Princess and the Pea, a contemporary take on two of the classic tales.

Past Performances
Crabgrass Puppet Theatre has 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 - twice (once in 2001 and again in 2005).  In 2008, Bonny received a Commendation for Design in the Puppet Theatre from the Arlyn Award Foundation. 

They have given many performances in schools, libraries, museums, and arts festivals - and have performed at over two dozen regional, national and international puppetry festivals.  Some of their venues have included the World Trade Center, the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Museum, Paper Mill Playhouse, the North Carolina Museum, the New York State Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the California Academy of Sciences, the Detroit Institute for the Arts, and hundreds of schools, museums, and theaters across the country. 

Crabgrass Puppet Theatre continues to perform more than 200 shows each year, reaching over 100,000 people throughout the United States.  And this week, we're lucky to have 'em back for The Day It Snowed Tortillas.  Make sure you buy your tickets HERE - because it's going to be a blast!  

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

The Day It Snowed Tortillas at PST!

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

View Show Calendar

With Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away, we know you're getting hungry.  So, doesn't it make sense to come on down to PST to see yet another food-related show?  We think so!  Our Feast of Food and Folktales continues with...


The Day It Snowed Tortillas by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre
Thursday Nov 15 & Friday Nov 16 | 10:30 AM
Saturday Nov 17 & Sunday Nov 18 | 1 PM & 3 PM


About the Show A poor woodcutter and his wife have the chance of a lifetime – to become rich! All they have to do is keep a secret. Trouble is, the woodcutter is the biggest blabbermouth south of the border. “We have to keep this a secret!” the wife tells him. “Absolutely!” says her husband. “I won't tell anyone. . . except my brother . . . and my best friend . . . and my mother . . . and . . .” “Enough!” says his wife. She cooks up an ingenious plan to divert any unwanted attention. All she has to do is make it snow . . . in July . . . in Mexico! The recipe for this hilarious folktale includes fantastic puppets, hysterically funny action, marvelous music, and one ridiculous chicken.
Rod and table-top puppets, recommended ages 4 & up

About the Performer: The Crabgrass Puppet Theatre is an award-winning touring puppet theatre founded in 1982 by Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall. Jamie and Bonny met in 1979, while performing in Laughingstock!, a puppet-and-actor production at the University of Connecticut in which Bonny played Jamie's father. They have been working together ever since!

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.

Aesop's Fables at PST

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

It's official, folks.  Halloween's over - has been for a few days now.  So we hope you're in food-and-folktales mood because the feast continues with - drumroll, please...


Aesop's Fables by Tuckers' Tales
Thursday Nov 8 & Friday Nov 9 | 10:30AM
Saturday Nov 10 & Sunday Nov 11 | 1PM & 3PM
Monday Nov 12 | 10:30AM & 1PM


About the ShowAesop, one of the greatest storytellers of the ancient world, also had a great sense of humor. And it's a good thing, because when Tuckers' Tales tells his stories, they take a few unexpected twists! Learn a lesson or two from the Fox & the Crow, prep for the winter with the Ant & the Grasshopper, and cheer on the Tortoise & the Hare in this fun, interactive, sing-a-long show!

About the Performer: Tuckers' Tales Puppet Theatre - the Performing division of Puppet Perceptions - Inc., is a Philadelphia based performing company founded in 1981. Co-directors Marianne and Tom Tucker have performed at puppet, folk, ethnic and street festivals; and at craft fairs, shopping centers, theaters and schools around the country. Audiences from small children to senior citizens have enjoyed the variety of styles skillfully displayed in their interesting programs.