Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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.

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