Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ole Lukoie Puppets Presents Magic Winglets

The Puppet Showplace welcomes a special international guest performer to our theatre this week. Master Puppeteer Alexey Shishov of St. Petersburg, Russia has designed a show especially for Boston audiences that draws on the dreamlike storytelling tradition of Oje Lukoie (the Sandman). Performed in English by Brookline community members Olga Pinson and Helen Cherkasova, this adaptation of Thumbelina features table top puppets and projected animations.

Performances will take place at the Puppet Showplace Theatre;
5/27 at 6:00 PM
5/28 at 5:00 PM

Tickets for this performance are not available through the Puppet Showplace Theatre Box Office. Tickets can be purchased directly from Ole Lukoie Puppets online. They will also be selling tickets at the door.

Purchase Tickets

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Behind The Mask Upcoming Events

Puppets and masks share common ancestry. And so we're excited to share with you some upcoming events of Behind The Mask, a performance troupe directed by long-time friend and PST board member Eric Bornstein.

May 24 through June 30

Mask Exhibit
Porter Square at the Porter Square Mall, CVS Window
Visit the Cambridge Arts Council's website for more info.

Opening June 2
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Plaza Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts
We proudly annouce our collaboration with Contemporary Theater of Boston, under the direction of Chris Cavalier, in a non-traditional adaptation journeying into the mysterious dream world of love, desire, and fiendish faeries. Featuring masks and costumes designed and created by Behind The Mask Studio

June 5
Cambridge River Festival
Behind The Mask Studio has created a tribute procession for the beloved storyteller Brother Blue, complete with giant puppets and a butterfly bonanza!
Behind The Mask will also put on an exhibition & workshop, with a performance of the story “The Woman Who Outshone The Sun”
Please visit for more details.

Through June 9
Illustration of the Imagination: Masks by Four Contemporary Artists
Heftler Visiting Artist Gallery, Center For the Arts, Endicott College, 376 Hale St, Beverly, MA
Please visit for more information.

Also, be sure to check out the Cambridge River Festival posters in the MBTA featuring the work of Behind The Mask Studio!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PuppetSLAM is coming... Saturday May 22nd at 8pm!

Our 4th and final PuppetSLAM of the 2009/2010 season is coming this Saturday night at 8pm! And what a show we have planned for you: Jon Little is set to host, plus there will be at least 22 performers making up nine performance troupes, including...

- Brodrick Jones of Virginia, with his "Piece of Dirt"

- Little's Creatures

- Lesley Smith, the talented ventriloquist behind Sammy Snail and the Theater of Life Puppets

- Evan O'Television and his televised self

- Puppetmaster Jake

- Michelle Finston making her debut performance!

- Elephant Tango Ensemble, an eight-member troupe consisting of puppeteers, actors, musicians, designers and dancers

- a short stop-animation film from Brittanie Marques

- The Puppet Showplace Incubator Hatchlings, a group of individual performers including Jim Sedgwick, Gary Pappas, Michelle Finston, and John Lechner, plus Puppet Showplace Theatre Artistic Director Roxie Myhrum, Artist in Residence Brad Shur, and Artist in Residence Emeritus Paul Vincent Davis

Tickets are still available but going fast. Get yours before we sell out! BUY TICKETS

Check out video of a piece from our previous PuppetSLAM in March 2010...
"The Conductor" by Little's Creatures

Disfarmer: A review

Disfarmer, directed by Dan Hurlin, was performed at the ICA this past weekend.

I have to admit, I don't get as many opportunities as I'd like to see serious puppet theater aimed at adults, so forgive me if I have the giddy tone you'll find in the parents of a young child eating at a restaurant without a drive-thru for the first time in months.

Of course, I take puppetry aimed at children very seriously, but well done, full length adult puppet theater is a rare treat.

There is only really one character in this show, Mike Disfarmer, an eccentric Arkansas photographer who documented small town life in the 1940s (Learn more about the real Mike Disfarmer). He is brought to life as a bunraku-style puppet worker be several performers at once. Not only was the manipulation of the puppet Disfarmer clean and elegant, but the landscape in which he lived was brought to life as well. The sets lived on a series of tables on wheels which rolled together to form the interior or exterior of his house. In a few scenes, while Disfarmer paced alone with his thoughts, table after table rolled under him, creating his path through the town with each step he took.

If the show itself was the treat, then the cherry on top was the Saturday morning workshop with director Dan Hurlin and the show's five puppeteers.

Participants worked with simple jointed practice puppets (pictured on the right) to learn how to bring them to life through teamwork. In the tradition of bunraku puppets, one puppeteer manipulates the head and right hand, one works the left hand, and one walks the puppet. It quickly became clear how difficult it was for three people to coordinate their efforts for even simple actions like walking or lying down, much less the subtle and character defining movements of Disfarmer.

Watch this blog for upcoming performances and workshops.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2010-2011 Season Sponsorship

The puppets are busily preparing for the 2010-2011 season year, which begins in September. But they need as much help as they can find to ensure that we'll be able to present really fantastic programming. And their looking to local sponsors to help out.

We can't express how delighted we are to have Finagle A Bagel recently pledge their support as a corporate sponsor!

Know of a wonderful local business like Finagle A Bagel that we should partner with? Send them our way. Our corporate sponsors receive really cool benefits, such as private shows, loads of advertising, and even a puppet likeness of the company's CEO. More details on sponsor benefits can be found here.

Contact Kris, our Executive Director, at for more info.

And thanks for supporting the imaginative world of puppetry!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Puppets in Development...

In addition to being a fabulous place to see puppet theater, Puppet Showplace is a great resource for artists developing new works. Every other week, we host our puppet incubator where artists of all persuasions meet to discuss and develop their works-in-progress. I love getting feedback from artists who work in different mediums or puppetry styles, and I always leave incubator fired up to build or write or rehearse.

Our puppet slams are also great ways for artists to try out pieces of a larger work in front of an audience. At our last slam, Diane Kordas of Romper Rhythm & Puppets performed part of her "Pirates and Tales of the Sea" show, which she will perform as a full piece at PST in September. Also, Bonnie Duncan of They Gotta Be Secret Agents performed an excerpt of her show Poste Restante, which I saw in its complete form (twice! once with my Mom! it was that good!) over the weekend at the Charlestown Working Theater. We're also waiting with great anticipation for the day when our friends and regular slam performers Z. Briggs and Chad Williams of Wonderspark Puppets will present a full-length show at PST. (Z. recently informed me that she did her first solo performance as a puppeteer at PST. We're so proud!).

For artists who are not working on a full length show but who still want to advance their puppetry skills, PST is a great educational resource. This weekend we are hosting a workshop with master puppeteer Dan Hurlin of Mapp International Productions while he is in Boston performing at the Institute of Contemporary Art as part of the Emerging America Festival. Then on Sunday, the Boston Area Guild of Puppetry (BAGOP) will present (PST board member!) Eric Bornstein of Behind the Mask as part of their Guild Meeting at PST. New members are welcome!

Still not sure how to take advantage of the artist resources that PST has to offer? Email me or drop by the theater and we'll talk! We had two puppeteers (Allison Daniel of Chicago and Agus Nur Amal of Indonesia) serendipitously drop in last week and wow us with their work. Our doors are open to you too!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Your body is a puppet

It's always amazing to see how every culture finds new and wonderful ways to bring inanimate objects to life. Chack out these Japanese leg puppets.

There's a practical limitation that affects every puppeteer: You only have two hands. How can you bring to life your characters with all the detail and sophistication they deserve with only two hands to manipulate them with? The solutions to this are the root of a lot of the innovation and artistry of puppet theater.

This traditional Japanese puppet form solves the problem by bringing a bit more of the body into play. The puppeteer's legs form the trunks of the puppets' bodies, and his hands are free to slip into the sleeves of the kimono to animate the arms. Voila! You have a puppet with three actively manipulated parts. Granted, it's a bit limited what you can do with a leg while lying on your back, but still quite beautiful.

Seeing this clip reminded me of this piece by Peruvian performers Theatro Hugo & Ines.

Hugo & Ines are masters of using the human body in innovative ways to create bright, living characters. If you're planning to be in New York later this month, you can see Hugo & Ines in action on May 28th, click here for details. Unfortunately, the only way to see traditional Japanese leg puppets would be a trip to Japan, unless you make your own.

-Brad Shur
Artist in Residence

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Brookline Arts Center's Palette Project

This spring, as they get ready for a big Spring fundraiser gala coming up this weekend, our friends at the Brookline Arts Center have created a town-wide art show.

Artists' palettes donated by more than 100 artists have been displayed throughout the town: each is designed by a Brookline talent, and will be available in a silent auction.

The Puppet Showplace's own Artist-in-Residence, Brad Shur, added his talents, creating a whimsical puppet inspired character. Apparently this green little guy has made many friends at The Children's Bookstore in Brookline Village where he's been on display.

You can bid on Brad's palette at the Children's Bookstore or at the BAC's fundraiser event, Color Your World Gala, this Saturday. Visit BAC's website for details.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kitsch in Sync presents Ken's Farewell Show - Friday, May 7, 8:00 PM

Did you know that on the first Friday of each month the Puppet Showplace Theatre turns into a comedy club? That is because local Improv Comic Troupe Kitsch in Sync calls this theatre home.

According to their website this troupe, which was founded in 1989, "is a committed and familial band of comedians out to make you laugh through the wonders of short-form improv comedy. At the end of the night, if [they've] done [their] job right, people are left with a fleeting, momentary respite from their empty relationships, unfulfilling jobs, and hopeless, meaningless lives. Hopefully the audience feels okay, too."

Kitsch in Sync performs a type of improv called "Short Form." In short-form improv, short, unrelated scenes and vignettes are performed, each one inspired by a different audience input. In most cases these scenes last five minutes or less. This is the type of improv fans of the TV show "Whose Line is it Anyway?" will recognize.

Don't miss their next show, Friday May 7 at 8:00.
Tickets are $10 General Admission; $8 Students.

This is being dubbed "Ken's Farewell Show" in homage to long-time cast member Ken Grout. This will be Ken's last performance with the troupe.

Learn more about Kitsch in Sync
Learn more about renting the Puppet Showplace Theatre for your own event

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More About...
Len Gerwick & The Gerwick Puppets

This is a very special week at the Puppet Showplace Theatre: We're welcoming The Gerwick Puppets in for four big days of Aesop's Fables, including Mother's Day, Sunday May 9th, when moms get in FREE!

Len Gerwick has been a puppeteer for most of his life. In fact, he grew up doing puppet shows. From junior high through college he took his portable theater by subway to all five boroughs of New York City. He graduated from Pratt Institute, studied at Columbia University, the University of Vienna (Austria), and received a Master's in Art History from the University of Toronto, Ontario.

Len has been passionate about painting, history, classical music and dance throughout his life. He was an art teacher at Holliston High School in Holliston, Massachusetts for nine years before entering puppetry full time.

He has been very active in the professional puppetry community, having served on the board of Puppeteers of America as chair of its Endowment Committee, and is currently on the board of The Puppet Showplace Theatre. In 2008, Len was awarded the Northeast Region of Puppeteers of America's Artistic Achievement Award.

Along with puppetry, he is dedicated to his painting where his work has been shown in galleries in Massachusetts.

The Gerwick Puppets have performed over 5,000 shows since their founding in 1974.

Aesop's Fables - This lively retelling includes The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, The Dog and his Bone and The Fox and the Crow. This performance delights audiences both young and old while teaching valuable lessons. Hand puppets.

Wednesday, May 5 - SOLD OUT

Thursday, May 6 @10:30AM

Saturday, May 8 @1PM @3PM

Sunday, May 9 @1PM @3PM