Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Magical Month of May at PST!

Happy Spring, Puppet Fans!

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
by Spring Valley Puppet Theater
Thurs & Fri, May 2 & 3 at 10:30am
Sat & Sun, May 4 & 5 at 1 & 3pm


With fond memories of ANIMAL APRIL at PST, we wave farewell to to our fabulous furry friends from Aesops's Fables, and cute critters that graced our puppet stage like Anansi the spider, and Mr. Bunni from the Carrot Salesman. Up next this spring at PST is MAGICAL MAY: a series of magic-filled tales that is sure to enchant audiences! To kick-off the month, PST presents, "A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" by Spring Valley Puppets which is paired with the classic tale of "The Three Wishes", a story about a wood cutter who meets a magical elf in the forest!  Join us this week for two delightful stories performed by the award-winning PST long-time favorite, Spring Valley Puppet Theater of New Haven Connecticut!

"The Three Wishes"
About the show: A hungry Wolf tries to outwit a savvy Shepherd and make a meal of the helpless, little Lamb. Helpless? Maybe not! Adapted from the Aesop fable, this popular story is enlivened with a colorful Mexican setting, a humorous communication gap and a surprise ending! This presentation also includes "The Three Wishes," a spring valley favorite! Hand Puppets. Recommended for ages 3 and up.

Puppeteer, Michael Graham

About the performer: Michael Graham, puppeteer and director of Spring Valley Puppet Theater, has been performing since 1966 throughout New England, primarily for schools and libraries. He has performed at regional and national festivals of the Puppeteers of America. He designs and makes his puppets, writes his own scripts, creates the scenery, and does a number of the voices.

He graduated from Western Connecticut State College, and studied with the renowned puppeteer Albrecht Roser from Stuttgart, Germany, at the University of Connecticut.

For more info about Michael Graham and Spring Valley Puppet Theater:
Visit www.springvalleypuppets.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shadow Puppetry Class for Adults!

Advanced Shadow Puppetry Workshop
Five sessions, May 6 - June 3
Monday nights | 6:30 - 8:30 pm


We invite you to advance your skills with us! Unleash the storytelling powers of darkness and light! Learn to build and perform a complete shadow puppet show in this rigorous and supportive class.

Image from "Trash: A Love Story" designed by Matthew Woellert, a PST shadow puppetry class alum


Participants will explore advanced mechanisms and building techniques using hinges, rivets, springs and slides crafted from durable materials to create professional quality shadow puppets. Then participants will focus on performance skills and visual storytelling to create an original short piece.

This is an advanced-level class: "Introduction to Shadow Puppetry" or equivalent experience is highly highly recommended.  If you have questions, please contact bshur@puppetshowplace.org.


Shadow Puppets
Shadow puppetry began 1000’s of years ago in China and India. Now it is regarded as the oldest form of puppetry in the entire world! Traditional shadow puppets are flat and made out of leather in which holes are punched out in order to imply features and clothing. Contemporary ones can be made combining a multitude of materials including: paper, plastic, wood, found objects, scarves, almost anything really! Puppeteer’s use flat articulated figures in order to give the appearance of three-dimensional moving objects with the assistance of light.  


Artist in Residence Brad Shur

This workshop is led by PST’s own Artist in Residence Brad Shur. Brad performs almost every month at PST as well as teaches classes and workshops to students aged 3 to adult. For nearly 15 years he has been professionally involved in puppetry since he began as a performer with the Providence puppet and Mask Company Big Nazo. He has worked in various capacities with Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee), and Vermont PuppetTree, and as a builder has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, and other theaters and performers from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts. 


Have you seen Brad's newest production at PST? In January of 2013, Puppet Showplace Theatre presented the world premier performance of "Yankee Peddler: Songs and Stories of Old New England" created and performed by Brad Shur, and musician, Chris Monti.  This exciting adventure through local New England Folklore features incredibly beautiful and intricate shadow puppets made by Brad Shur, and live folk music performed by Chris Monti.

If you missed the January performances, you can see "Yankee Peddler" on our stage this Spring: May, 23  through 26.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Animal April Concludes with Anansi the Spider!

Anansi, Spiderman of Africa
by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre

Thurs | April 25 | 10:30 AM

Fri | April 26 | 10:30 AM & *3:30 PM
Sat & Sun | April 27 & 28 | 1 PM & 3 PM
*Join us for a special post-show demonstration with Crabgrass Puppet Theatre, and enjoy a free puppet-making activity to take home after the 3:30pm performance on Friday, April 26.


A side-splitting selection of famous folktales from Africa starring Anansi the Spider, whose appetite always overrules his intellect. Anansi loves to eat and hates to work, so he tries to trick other animals out of their food. But there's no free lunch for Anansi, because all of his schemes leave him hungrier than ever! Anansi is one of the classic trickster characters in world folklore. These comical African folktales are both entertaining and instructive; because he puts his own desires ahead of the needs of his community, Anansi often ends up exiled to the corner of the room. Anansi, Spiderman of Africa was awarded the 2000-2001 Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette, the highest honor in American puppetry. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Crabgrass Puppet Theatre: Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall 

CRABGRASS PUPPET THEATRE is an award-winning, touring puppet theatre founded in 1982 by Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall. After graduating from the University of Connecticut, Bonny and Jamie toured the East Coast with the Pandemonium Puppet Company. After completing that they created their first together, “What a Clever idea!” which had giant puppets that grew to eight feet tall. Crabgrass Puppet Theatre has twice 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, in 2001 and again in 2005. In 2008, Bonny Hall received a Commendation for Design in the Puppet Theatre from the Arlyn Award Foundation. They have given many thousands of performances in schools, libraries, museums, and arts festivals, and have performed at over two dozen regional, national and international puppetry festivals. 

Who is Anansi the Spiderman?

A book collection of Anansi Stories by Gerald McDermott,
does your local library have a copy!?

Have you ever heard of Anansi, the trickster Spiderman? Anansi the spider is one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore. 

A spider with many names! He is also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy; and in the Southern United States he has evolved into Aunt Nancy.  Although he is a spider, Anansi often often acts and appears as a man. Anansi store are similar to trickster tales found in many Native American cultures about the coyote, raven or Iktomi. 

Where do Anansi Stories Come From?

The Anansi tales are believed to have originated from the Ashanti people in Ghana. (The word Anansi means "spider" in Akan.)  There is even a story in the collection of Anansi stories about WHERE the stories came from:

Once there were no stories in the world. The Sky-God, Nyame, had them all. Anansi went to Nyame and asked how much they would cost to buy.

Nyame set a high price: Anansi must bring back Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, the Mmoboro Hornets, and Mmoatia the dwarf.

Anansi set about capturing these. First he went to where Python lived and debated out loud whether Python was really longer than the palm branch or not as his wife Aso says. Python overheard and, when Anansi explained the debate, agreed to lie along the palm branch. Because he cannot easily make himself completely straight a true impression of his actual length is difficult to obtain, so Python agreed to be tied to the branch. When he was completely tied, Anansi took him to Nyame.

To catch the leopard, Anansi dug a deep hole in the ground. When the leopard fell in the hole Anansi offered to help him out with his webs. Once the leopard was out of the hole he was bound in Anansi's webs and was carried away.

To catch the hornets, Anansi filled a calabash with water and poured some over a banana leaf he held over his head and some over the nest, calling out that it was raining. He suggested the hornets get into the empty calabash, and when they obliged, he quickly sealed the opening.

To catch the dwarf he made a doll and covered it with sticky gum. He placed the doll under the Odum (Tree of Life) where the dwarfs play and put some yam in a bowl in front of it. When the dwarf came and ate the yam she thanked the doll which of course did not reply. Annoyed at its bad manners she struck it, first with one hand then the other. The hands stuck and Ananse captured her.

Anansi handed his captives over to Nyame. Nyame rewarded him with the stories.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Arts Advocacy Event at PST

Meeting with State Representative Frank Smizik
April 18th | 6-7 PM at Puppet Showplace Theatre

State Representative Frank Smizik

Calling all arts-lovers! We invite you to join members of the Brookline arts community for a conversation with State Representative Frank Smizik (15th Norfolk) about the value of arts and culture to Massachusetts residents. As legislators consider a proposal to cut another $1.5 million from the Massachusetts Cultural Council's budget we are initiating this open forum. Refreshments will be served!

Please RSVP to Artistic Director Roxie Myhrum (artistic@puppetshowplace.org) if you think you will be able to attend.

What to expect: Earlier this month, MASSCreative hosted a meeting with state representatives and 25 arts and cultural leaders, at the Fuller Craft Museum. The discussion opened with relevant data on the allocation of funding for the arts. The evening ended with Rep. Cronin stating she would do everything she can based on what she had heard that night and a room full of applause. Read more...

MASSCreative empowers creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice that brings the attention and resources necessary to build vibrant, creative communities. MASSCreative works with creative leaders, working artists, arts educators and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and attention necessary to build vibrant, connected, and creative communities.  http://www.mass-creative.org/

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Restoring Joy in Boston

The Puppet Showplace Theatre joins the many members of the Boston community in solidarity and mourning after the senseless attacks on the city yesterday. We want to thank all the first responders and medical personnel for taking action without hesitation to help both members of our own community and those visiting the city for the Marathon. During this time of uncertainty and loss, we hope that many of you will use the power of the arts, in whatever form, to begin to heal. 

If you are a parent and looking for ways to talk to your children about the events that took place at the Boston Marathon, take a look at this helpful webpage by 90.9wbur: CLICK HERE

Graham Gardner- PST Staff Member

Hi PST folks, 
Graham Gardner,
 PST Graphic Designer and Guest Blogger

I hope everyone is waking up safe and sound today. I rode the train early this morning and it felt almost like a ghost town. Even at 7am the train is easily half full of commuters but today there were only a handful of people on the red line heading toward the city. Later I passed a small unit of the National Guard on my way into North Station, all looked just about my age and with crisp, un-dirtied uniforms.

I'll spare you the Mr. Rogers quotes about helpers but the one thought I had this morning was that it was good to be amongst people, even just the few that braved the public commute. It's a strange turn of fate that my car would be in the shop this week and I'm forced to leave the bubble like solitude of a one-person drive to work. There is a lot to be shared in just a few passing glances between commuters today. 

I hope wherever you are--at PST, at one of the million other jobs we all have, or with friends or family--I hope that you are well and I hope that you are finding comfort in the people around you. As a New England institution, PST has been bringing beauty, art, and joy to the people of Boston (and beyond) for many years. I'm proud to be apart of that.

Sending thanks and well wishes to you all and the greater PST community.

Graham Gardner
PST Graphic Designer

Monday, April 15, 2013


School Vacation Week at PST

Need ideas for how to keep your children busy over April Vacation? Come to the theatre and catch a performance at PST! There are two amazing shows to choose from: “The Chicken Show” by Liz Joyce from Goat on a Boat puppet theatre in Long Island, NY, and fan favorite, Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers is back with “The legend of the Banana Kid”. Both shows have two performances each day.  How can you possibly choose between these two hilarious shows? You don't have to, come and see both!

The Chicken Show by Liz Joyce
Tues | April 16 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM
Wed | April 17 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM
Thurs | April 18 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM

Henrietta, the singing chicken longs to be a star on Broadway, but the Mean Ol' Farmer is going to put her in a stew if she doesn't produce an egg by morning. Find out how Henrietta, with the help of her friends learns to believe in herself to make her dreams come true. The performance comes to life with Rod Puppets and masked/costumed characters.

About the performer: Liz Joyce is an accomplished performer whose puppets have entertained numerous audiences in the New England area. She has also appeared in festivals across the country, from New York to Chicago and even to Minnesota. Besides putting on shows, she serves as Regional Director for the Puppeteers of America and President of the Puppetry Guild of Greater New York.

Liz has also been in TV, appearing on long-running sitcom All My Children as Liz the Puppeteer. Recently she received an UNIMA Citation for her puppet operetta Sing a Song of Sixpence. The UNIMA Citation is the highest award in American puppetry.

The Legend of the Banana Kid 
by Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers
Fri | April 19 | 10:30 AM & 1 PM
Sat | April 20 | 1 & 3 PM
Sun April 21 | 1 & 3 PM


In "The Legend of the Banana Kid" our friend Little Chucky meets a mysterious cowboy who takes him to a remote Western town that is being harassed by a seedy group of outlaws. Chucky, pretending to be a local hero, leads an effort to outsmart the thugs and bring justice back to the town using bananas as his weapon of choice. Riding on his trusty goat, Chucky encounters all kinds of wild Western fun. The show uses mouth and rod puppets.

About the performers: Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers is a small puppetry troupe based in Bar Harbor, Maine, and comprised of three siblings - Erik, Brian, and Robin Torbeck. Founded in 2000, Frogtown Mountain has performed at fairs, festivals, theatres, parades, schools, libraries, and some of the finest petting zoos on the East Coast. All their shows are written by the troupe and are performed with their hand-made puppets.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vacation Week is Almost Here with Aesop's Fables!

Aesop's Fables! 
by WonderSpark Puppets
Thurs | April 11 | 10:30 AM
Fri  | April 12 | 10:30 AM
Sat | April 13 | 1 & 3 PM
Sun | April 14 | 1& 3 PM

Are you counting the days until April School Vacation Week like we are? Before our Vaca-week programing is in full swing, stop by the theatre for the delightful performance of "Aesop's Fables" by WonderSpark Puppets! What better way to teach and entertain than with Aesop’s fables! Join us for a great time while learning lessons from these classic tales including "Lion and the Mouse" and "Tortoise and the "Hare."

About the Show:  A hilarious spin on Aesop's Fables with tabletop puppets performed by WonderSpark Puppets. This highly interactive performance of timeless moral stories includes 'The Lion and the Mouse', 'The Ant and The Grasshopper' and the 'Tortoise and the Hare.' Along the way, we also learn the four seasons, the power of kindness and good sportsmanship.

About the Performers: WonderSpark Puppets (New York City, NY) was founded by husband and wife team, Chad Williams and Lindsey “Z” Briggs who infuse fun and whimsy into all their performances. Z Briggs has worked as a professional puppeteer for the last 7 years as a performer and builder on numerous projects including most recently Alissa Hunnicutt's The Kid Inside, Jonny Clockworks' Edward Lear's Absurd Ditties, Lone Wolf Tribes' Bride (2009 UNIMA Award), and the character Lottie Lamb on the PBS kids show Seemore's Playhouse. Chad Williams is a filmmaker turned puppeteer, having shot and edited two puppetry documentaries: Puppet Fest '09 and Puppet Rampage.  http://wondersparkpuppets.com/

Where do the tales of Aesop come from? Who is Aesop? 

Legend has it, the tales known as Aesop’s fables were created by an ancient Greek slave who earned his freedom. The stories were some of the world's first morality tales, originating in the sixth century B.C. Aesop's fables use animal characters to mock human folly and are also the source of many enduring cultural images and idioms.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

PST Re-Vamps Fan Favorite with LIVE MUSIC!

Brad Shur Performing "The Carrot Salesman" with Robot puppet
The Carrot Salesman by Brad Shur
Thurs & Fri | April 4 & 5 | 10:30am
Sat & Sun | April 6 & 7| 1pm & 3pm

You can WEAR it, or TEAR it! You can event SHARE it!  
And it tastes GREAT, when you put it on a PLATE! 
Would you like to buy a carrot?"

You have never seen "The Carrot Salesman" by PST Artist in Residence, Brad Shur quite like this before! For the first time ever, enjoy one of your favorite original stories come to life with a brand new music score performed LIVE by local musician, Chris Monti.

Hmmm...Chris Monti...that name sounds familiar, doesn't it? It should! Brad and Chris collaborated on PST's newest production, "Yankee Peddler: Songs and Stories from Old New Englad" this January during our "New Year: New Shows!" series.  Read more about this amazing shadow puppet sing-a-long adventure through Americana on the puppet blog: CLICK HERE

The Carrot Salesman is an original story by PST's own Artist in Residence Brad Shur. The tale follows a door-to-door carrot salesrabbit who is not very good at his job. But through his unsuccessful efforts to sell carrots to elephants, jellyfish, moles, and robots, he discovers a way to help all of the animals. Performed with colorful two-dimensional table-top puppets, live music and fun audience interaction! Recommended for ages 2 and up.

Brad Shur has been PST's Artist in Residence since 2009. Brad has been professionally involved in puppetry for almost 15 years! He began as a performer with the Providence puppet and mask company Big Nazo while studying film and animation at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has worked in various capacities with Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee), and Vermont PuppetTree, and as a builder has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, and other theaters and performers from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts.


Michael Dobiel was exposed to the saxophone at the age of ten and gradually expanded into other instruments. Michael earned a B.A. in saxophone performance and composition from Westfield State College and a M.M. in Composition from the University of Louisville. In 2009 he toured Serbia with Serious Play! Theatre and Ensemble, as part of their production Milosevic at the Hague. More recently, he has taken part in the Boston scene, in collaborations such as Axe to Ice's The Mary Dolan Show.


Chris Monti
Chris Monti is a writer and singer with original material covering a variety of stylistic genres. Playing both acoustic and electric Chris plays. "some old time folkiness, country-blues, African music, rock and roll, hippie music, Indian music [and] a lot of improvisation." Chris fingerpicks, flatpicks, uses open tunings and plays slide. He also plays harmonica, banjo, mandolin, dobro, piano, lap steel and kazoo.