Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall
of Crabgrasss Puppet Theatre
"The Pirate, the Princess and the Pea" by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre (Wed-Sat) | July 10-13 | 10:30am & 1pm
BUY TICKETS We've spotted a
couple 'o new faces ashore that are gunna be stoppin' by to put on a brand new
performance this week at Puppet Showplace 'n we be happier than a
buccaneer findin' booty!
About the Artists... Puppet Showplace is proud to welcome Crabgrass Puppet Theatre of Vermont during our Summer Puppet Adventures series this July and August. In 1982, Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall founded this award winning puppet theatre and have been performing their shows all over the United States ever since.
Bonnie and Jamie met while studying at the University of Connecticut and after graduating toured the East Coast with the Pandemonium Puppet Company. The production of their first show, What a Clever Idea! set the pair off for what would be the first of many performances at regional, national and international puppetry festivals. About the NEW show- "The Pirate, the Princess and the Pea"
A pirate and a princess are on a treasure hunt, searching
for the same clues. The princess stays one step ahead of the pirate with
every clue. But how can she get him out of the way long enough to dive
for the treasure?
The pirate must prove himself not only by finding the treasure before the princess but also by convincing her that he is a real pirate!
We are convinced that "The Pirate, the Princess, and the Pea" will quickly become a new fan favorite of Puppet Showplace audiences. Join us for this new adventure!
Puppet Showplace Theatre (PST) will present two world premiere performances of puppetry works created by Boston-based artists as part of the theatre’s “New Year, New Shows!” series, running from January 12 – February 3. The series begins with "The Yankee Peddler: Stories and Songs from Old New England", by PST Artist-in-Residence Brad Shur and Folk Musician Christopher Monti. There are additional performances on Monday, Jan 21st at 10:30am and 1pm. PST is open for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday! As part of the theatre's shows in repertoire, look for "Yankee Peddler" on our calendar in the spring and beyond- it is sure to become a fan favorite!
Behind the puppet stage: Brad Shur's signature shadow puppets
performed on an overhead projector
In this brand new show, two very different types of media come together to create storytelling magic! Both shadow puppetry and live music have a long history and tradition rooted in rich cultures of many peoples all over the globe. Brad Shur’s signature shadow puppetry style uses cut-outs manipulated on a overhead, and then projected onto a large screen. During the entire show, Chris Monti is the only performer visible to the audience. This creates a unique interaction between performer, spectators and characters on the puppet screen. Chris as the live performer acts as a go-between to draw the audience into the two dimensional world of the shadow puppets.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Chris Monti and Brad Shur
Puppeteer Brad Shur knew he wanted to make a show with live music, so he tapped folk musician Chris Monti to collaborate on “Peddler.” Comrades and past roommates, this storytelling team is a perfect pairing of sound making and tale-crafting. Together, they scoured songbooks and dusted off folklore anthologies in search of material that would make for good visual storytelling while celebrating life in the Northeast. Chris dove into the depths of his own repetorie that comes from playing with New England folk musicians and old time musicians. As an example, the song “The fox” comes from the Scotts who compiled a book called “Ballad of America.” The text is a history of America through folk song.
ABOUT THE STORIES
After narrowing down an enormous list to 10 songs and stories, the result is a collection of unique folktales. All of the stories are pieces of folklore from the New England region. Some are based on historical facts, others express interesting cultural practices, and a few even tell the tall-tales of local mythology folk heroes. Every part of the world has their own arts and stories. New England has its own history with its own flavor, and “Yankee Peddler” reflects those traditions and local culture.
From "The Mammoth Cheese of
One of the stories is a piece of real history about giant cheese. This is clearly the kind of history you can’t ignore! The performers picked stories that had unexpected elements, with a lot of energy, and room for silliness. “The Mammoth Cheese of Cheshire Massachusetts , is the true story about Thomas Jefferson and the gift of a giant piece of cheese. Another historically inspired story is “Letters to Rats” which comes from actual letters found in old houses written by people in colonial times addressed to vermin infesting their homes and eating their food. These stories come from a broad range of social classes, including characters from a mayor to the president, and sailors, and even animals!
Often when we study American History, we first address the Revolutionary War, or the Civil war, but Brad and Chris didn’t want to explore Old New England culture using military history. War is only one small facet of history, and it is not something these performers wanted to glorify. They are instead interested in celebrating a different kind of hero.
One such hero in “Yankee Peddler” is the famous Stormalong who battles with his own demons and whose hero status emerges because of his determination- and also his enormous girth! Stormalong is part of the same tradition as Paul Bunyan and John Henry who found fame in being very good at the thing they loved, and putting their passion into it. Have you ever seen Stormalong face-off with the Kracken, a giant octopus sea creature? Now is your chance!
From "Cluck Old Hen"
Other stories in the show feature man’s connection to nature. Living more closely to the grand out doors was a huge part of life in old New England. In “Yankee Peddler”, expect to see forest creatures galore, like “The Fox” who dives into his den, and a bear who needs a little help getting dressed in “Jenny Jenkins”, some rats who love to eat cheese and crackers with jam in “Letters to Rats”, and the fastest egg-slinging hen in the east in “Cluck Old Hen.”
ABOUT THE MUSIC
Chris Monti rehearsing in the PST lobby
All of the music in the show is performed live by Chris Monti. The orchestration is mainly vocals, harmonica, guitar, kazoo and a few other noise makers like a triangle and symbol crashes for those pointed moments requiring special effects. Chris composed original music and adapted licks from fiddle tunes for incidental music that underscores about half of the shadow puppets stories. Other visuals in the show are entirely based on the songs themselves.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
“Yankee Peddler” has benefited a lot from wonderful feedback of other local puppeteers and performing artist during its development. Scenes from the show were workshopped in 2010 at the Eugene O’Neil Puppetry Conference in Connecticut, as well as at PST’s own Incubator program for the development of new works. The show received support from the Harris Grant Program of the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.
TAKE A SNEAK-PEEK!
Rehearsal footage from "Yankee Peddler: Stories and Songs of Old New England"
STRAIGHT FROM THE PUPPETEER'S MOUTH
“This is Americana, but a different kind of Americana. It will make you proud to be a New Englander for reasons you never thought!” –Brad Shur
Brad Shur created over 100 shadow puppets for
"Yankee Peddler: Stories and Songs from Old New England"
From Left: Roxanna Myhrum (PST Artistic Director),
Jaime Keithline (Crabgrass), Brad Shur (PST Artist-in-Residence),
and Bonnie Hall (Crabgrass) on the set of "Magic Soup."
As New England's oldest and only puppet theatre open all year round, Puppet Showplace Theatre is also an important center to support the work of local puppetry artists, and where puppeteers come to support each other's work.
On Thursday, August 9th, Crabgrass Puppet Theatre from Halifax Vermont came to Brookline to take a special behind the scenes look at PST Artist-In-Residence, Brad Shur's newest production, "The Magic Soup and Other Stories". This puppet show is on stage for one more day this month, Saturday August 11th with performances at 10:30am and 1pm BUY TICKETS and will return to the stage during Thanksgiving week for PST's "Feast of Food and Folktales" this November.
Jaime and Bonnie of Crabgrass have been creating puppet theatre together since 1982, and were impressed with Brad's new show. Here's what they had to say about the performance: "What a great show! It is so exciting to see that young puppeteers like Brad are making such strong new work" and "Brad is a wonderful actor, and the design is beautiful and well done."
Crabgrass Puppet Theatre will be on stage next week, August 15th through 18th, with a brand new performance of "Jack and the Beanstalk." More Info. Join us for a special post-show reception to meet the performers and enjoy refreshments sponsored by the Boston Area Guild of Puppetry after the 10:30am show on Saturday, August 18th.