Monday, March 31, 2014

Nature and Animal Stories at Puppet Showplace!

Animal April
Series of puppet shows featuring your favorite creatures!

UP NEXT: "Turtle's New Home"
by Deborah Costine, Puppeteer!
Thurs & Fri, April 3 & 4 at 10:30am
Sat & Sun, April 5 & 6 at 1 & 3pm

Join us this Spring at Puppet Showplace for a series of puppet shows featuring your favorite animal characters. Adventure with animals from Galapagos Island, journey into the forest with a trickster raccoon from Native American stories, or travel to the jungles of africa to meet your favorite Spider Anansi and his friends.  First in the series is an original story by local puppeteer Deborah Costine about animals native to New England. VIEW FULL CALENDAR

"Turtle's New Home" by Deborah Costine, Puppeteer!
About the show:

New England animals are the stars of this charming story about friends in a wetland habitat. The little pond where Blanding the turtle has lived for many years is no longer safe because a road has been built between there and the place she goes to lay her eggs. When she meets young Castor the Beaver, who is eager to build a dam, she sees that her problems might be solved! Along the way, we also meet a young boy and his nature-loving babysitter who learn together how to look closely at nature.

"Turtle's New Home" by Deborah Costine, Puppeteer!
About the performer:
Debbie is an artist, naturalist and National award-winning puppeteer whose mission is to inspire the love of nature in children. She co-founded The Gerwick Puppets in 1974 and, with Len Gerwick, designed, and built 14 productions during which time she created over 200 puppet characters and presented over 5,000 performances throughout New England.

Deborah Costine, Puppeteer and the cast of
her UNIMA award-winning show, "A Woodland Cinderella"
Eventually Debbie formed her own solo company -and produced shows appropriate for ages 3 and up, Including “The Three Pigs and Other Tales, “The Twig Family in the Oak Tree” and “A Woodland Cinderella.” “Turtle’s New Home” is the newest production and received funding from the Jim Henson Foundation. It is an endearing story about friendship, habitat needs and “puppet” children learning how to look closely at nature.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Yiddish Folktales at Puppet Showplace!

"Puppets Around the World"

Series of puppetry styles and folktales from across the globe continues with...

"The Magic Soup and Other Stories"
by Artist in Residence, Brad Shur
Mar 27 & 28 (Thu & Fri) | 10:30 am
Mar 29 & 30 (Sat & Sun) | 1 pm & 3 pm


When the things are looking down, how do you find the strength to persevere? Join Brad Shur as he shares one young adult’s story of challenge and triumph, through family history and family dinner.

This collection of yiddish folktales features your favorite stories from the Jewish tradition of Eastern Europe: “The Naked Truth and Resplendent Parable,” “The Egg Seller,” “The Very Small House,” “A Coat for Poverty,” “Pleasing All the World,” and “The Magic Soup." All of the puppetry elements and set pieces are designed and crafted by Brad Shur, Puppet Showplace in Residence.

Resplendent Parable character from "The Magic Soup and Other Stories"
About the Performance

What do you do when your relatives are 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 his kitchen. Based on a collection of traditional Yiddish stories, "The Magic Soup" teaches that it is those with wit, humor and imagination who have the best chance of filling their bellies -- and fulfilling their dreams.

Trickster character, Hershel of Ostropol.
About the Performer

Brad Shur is a versatile puppeteer who has created and performed characters made of everything from pixels to papier mache. As the Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace Theatre he performs regularly and teaches puppetry classes to students of all ages, Pre-K to adult. As protégé of master puppeteer Paul Vincent Davis, Shur trained extensively in glove puppetry and currently performs two of Davis’ classic shows at venues across New England. In January, he completed production for "Robin Hood," Shur's first original glove puppet show. Shur’s other original works include "The Carrot Salesman," "Dr. Doohickey and the Monster Machine," "The Yankee Peddler: Stories and Songs from Old New England" and "The Magic Soup and Other Stories," featured at the Puppeteers of America National Festival 2013.

Brad Shur with puppet character, the “Naked Ugly Truth”
in “The Magic Soup and Other Stories”.
Prior to becoming the Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace, Shur toured the country as a performer with Big Nazo (Rhode Island), Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee) and The PuppeTree (Vermont). As a builder Shur has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, Avenue Q, and the U.S.S. Constitution Museum. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Don’t miss the “Naked Ugly Truth” in “The Magic Soup and Other Stories”.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Explore Puppets from Around the World!


March 21 is World Puppetry Day! Celebrate the rich history and culture of puppetry styles from across the globe. Take a look a upcoming live performances at Puppet Showplace: CALENDAR

Did you know that the first puppet show was performed 3,000 years ago? Or that puppets were often used in religious rituals? That’s a lot of puppet history to cover!

Wayang Puppets (INDONESIA):

Wayang means “Shadow” in Javanese; Wayang puppets are popular shadow puppets used in performances in Indonesia. The first recorded performance in Indonesia was in 930 CE. Wayang puppets usually act out either religious stories, or stories from the “Ramayana,” an ancient epic Hindu poem written in India about 3,000 years ago.

Sicilian marionettes (ITALY):

Also known as the Opera dei Pupi (The Opera of the Puppets), puppet shows became immensely popular in Italy in the late middle ages. The handcrafted wooden marionettes often depicted historical events loosely; medieval knights and their battles were also favored performances. The puppet industry was dominated by several affluent and skilled craftsmen and their families.

Bunraku (JAPAN):

Bunraku is a traditional Japanese puppet style that involves chanting and complex mechanical puppets that have been around since 1684. Bunraku is notable for the sophisticated mechanical design of the heads of the puppets- their mouths, noses, eyes, eyebrows, and sometimes entire faces can be moved and changed. Each puppet requires three puppeteers to operate. Generally a single chanter will sit on a platform on the stage and recite all of the play’s text.

Mua Roi Nuoc (VIETNAM):

Emerging from the common occurrence of rice fields flooding, Mua Roi Nuoc is a Vietnamese form of puppetry that is performed in waist deep water. The rod puppets are built out of wood, then lacquered. Puppeteers manipulate a large rod that supports the puppet from under the water, and are generally hidden themselves behind a screen or other set piece. The illusion created is of a puppet moving by itself across the water. This tradition dates back to the 11th century.

Punch and Judy (GREAT BRITAIN):

Debuting in 1662, Punch and Judy are a married couple whose antics are performed in a series of short scenes that typically have a violent ‘punch’line. Punch and Judy are glove puppets, controlled by a single puppeteer from within a colorful booth. Punch and Judy performances involve a lot of improv- puppeteers add on to the storyline and embellish as they see fit. Though the tradition started in Great Britain, Punch and Judy performances have spread all over Europe.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March Puppet Slam: Puppets Around the World

"Puppets at Night"
Series of evening puppetry performances for adults and teens presents...

Chinese Theatre Works (NYC)
"Puppet Showplace Slam: International Edition"
Saturday, March 22 at 8pm


Every other month Puppet Showplace stays open late to deliver the finest in grown-up short form puppetry entertainment. Each cabaret-style piece is performed by a different artist or artists, and the content can be wide-ranging: some acts are elegant or poignant, others are satiric, irreverent, or humorous, and still others can be passionate, political, or spiritual in nature. 

In honor of the World Day of Puppetry, March's Puppet Showplace Slam will bring together puppetry styles and stories from around the globe. Performers include Chinese Theatre Works (NYC), Israeli mask artist Avital Peleg, Margaret Moody of Galapagos Puppets, Puppet Master Jake, Accordionist Ian Theo Mitchell, and more!

Cash bar! Beer and wine will be served.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Celebrate the World Day of Puppetry with Chinese Folktales!

"Puppets Around the World" series of puppetry styles and folktales from across the globe continues with...

Hao Bang-Ya Horse
by Chinese Theatre Works (NYC)
Thurs & Fri, Mar 20 & 21 at 10:30am
Sat & Sun, Mar 22 & 23 at 1pm & 3pm


March 21st is the World Day of Puppetry. Come celebrate with us at our final "Puppets Around the World" shows. This week, join Chinese Theatre Works of New York City for a puppet-filled trip through new year traditions.


About the show: 
Celebrate the Year of the Horse in this fun and interactive show featuring a jolly selection of hand puppet vignettes based on popular songs and well-known Chinese sayings. Discover both ancient and modern pearls of Horse wisdom, such as: “The fastest Horse can’t catch up to a Promise once given,” “Ma Ma, Hu Hu” (Literally “horse, horse, tiger, tiger,” meaning something that is so-so), and “Patting the Horse’s Rear-End” (flattery gets you nowhere). 

Characters from the Chinese Zodiac

Audiences will also learn about Chinese New Year customs and foods (red envelopes, fish and “nian gao”) and be introduced to other animals of the Chinese zodiac including Tigers, Rabbits, Dragons and Snakes. Sing-alongs, games, and a hands-on post-show hands-on demonstration will make the Chinese language and cultural experience accessible to even the youngest audience members! 

*Some parts of the program are performed in Chinese, with English translations and explanations.

Chinese Theatre Works co-artistic directors, Kuang-Fong & Stephen Kaplin leading a shadow puppet lecture and demo.
About the Performer: Chinese Theatre Works (CTW) was created in 2001 out of the merger of two non-profit institutions with long histories of bringing both traditional and contemporary Chinese performing arts to local, national, and international audiences. Now based in New York City, CTW's mission is to preserve and promote the traditional Chinese performing arts (including opera, shadow theatre, puppetry, dance and music); to create new performance works that bridge Eastern and Western aesthetics and forms; and to foster understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture in audiences, artists students, scholars and educators around the globe.

Learn more about Chinese Theatre Works here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Learn How to Create Character Voices!

Adult and Teen Classes at Puppet Showplace Theatre

Fundamentals of Silly Voices  
with Brenda Huggins, Teaching Artist
4 sessions, Tuesdays March 25 - April 15 | 6:30-8:30pm


Are you a puppeteer, storyteller or librarian? Are you a parent who wants to incorporate character voices into story-time with your little ones? Sign-up for "Silly Voices" and learn how to bring exciting characters to life with your voice. Class starts soon, sign-up today!

About the Class:

In this fun and rigorous class, participants will discover how their voice works and learn how make it work for them. Through interactive vocal warm-ups and exercises, students will explore their own vocal ranges and learn techniques for breath support, projection, and maintaining vocal health. The class will make connections between voice, character, and storytelling using group activities and multiple styles of puppetry and object theatre.

This class is recommended for anyone interested in expanding their repertoire of consistent and expressive character voices, from professional performers to puppetry enthusiasts. 

Participant Testimonial
"Fundamentals of Silly Voices" is a course Brenda Huggins taught at Puppet Showplace Theatre in 2012, and at the 2013 National Puppetry Festival. Here is what a previous student has to say about their experience...
Kaitee Tredway and her puppet, Washburne

"I left Silly Voices with a toolbox: warm-ups, visualization exercises, access to different resonating chambers, and perhaps most importantly, the confidence to experiment and play within my own voice"

- Kaitee Tredway, 
local actor and puppeteer

About the instructor:

Brenda Huggins is a singer, actor, puppeteer, costume designer, theatre and opera director, and teaching artist with an M.A. in Theatre Education from Emerson College. Her background in classical vocal music as a graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a B.A. in Music lead her to develop a unique approach to voice performance that is a combination of techniques from across music and theatre disciplines.

Brenda Huggins with Puppet Playtime character, Bella Monster
Brenda has taught this innovative philosophy in the Greater Boston Area for over 5 years as a private voice teacher and workshop instructor for youth, college students, and adults. Brenda led a workshop of this cross-discipline voice performance technique at the 2013 National Puppetry Conference in Swarthmore, PA. Brenda is the co-creater and puppeteer of Puppet Showplace Theatre's Puppet Playtime, an interactive puppetry performance series with live music for very young audiences. Learn more about PUPPET PLAYTIME.

Learn how to master your own vocal technique in an encouraging classroom environment!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

NEW Early Childhood Education Center Opens in Brookline!

Puppet Showplace Theatre is excited to partner with Bright Horizons at Brookline because we both deeply understand the value of early childhood education. Find out more about the opening of Bright Horizons at Brookline, and why dramatic play that encourages imagination and expression is important in early childhood development...

Puppet Showplace Executive Dir. Thom Yarnal, Bright Horizons at Brookline Center Dir. Lindsay McKenzie,
and Toddler Education Coordinator Daniel Gonzalez

by Guest Blogger: Bright Horizons at Brookline Center Director, Lindsay McKenzie

At Bright Horizons we recognize the importance of dramatic play in child development. A child’s pretend play in classrooms or at home is often considered fun and imaginative, but with limited educational value. The truth is, in the midst of creating a doctor’s office or clomping around in grown-up shoes, children are learning to solve problems, coordinate, cooperate, and think flexibly. Similar to the previously mentioned activities, puppetry is a wonderful form of dramatic play.

Through imaginative play with puppets, children easily ascribe feelings and ideas to these ‘people’ and ‘animals’ and often use them to express, explore and work out their own ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Pretending is very important in a child’s development. In every Bright Horizons center, children will find a dramatic play area of the classroom, designed to encourage imagination and expression.

Bright Horizons at Brookline: Now Open

Bright Horizons at Brookline, which opened in March 2014, incorporates dramatic play into their World at Their Fingertips curriculum. The center’s Toddler Education Coordinator, Daniel Gonzalez, is an experienced puppeteer who weaves dramatic play into the children’s activities to encourage the development of important complex social and higher order thinking skills. 

"Dramatic play in a childcare center is just as important as any other areas in the classroom,” Daniel says, “Through the use of various props, children are able to explore and mimic roles they've seen through their parents and other adults. This helps to develop their social and communication skills, and their gross and fine motor skills. It has become an essential piece of the early childhood experience."

Infant classroom, Bright Horizons at Brookline
Bright Horizons at Brookline serves children 6 weeks to 5 years old with Infant through Kindergarten Prep Programs. Center Highlights include Movement Matters Zone with Rock Climbing Wall, SMART Board and Touch Screen computers, Parking, Enrichment Activities and more! To learn more, please click here or call 617-232-0295. The center is currently accepting enrollment in all programs! 

Kindergarten Prep classroom, Bright Horizons at Brookline
Bright Horizons at Brookline Sponsors Puppet Playtime

Because of the importance of dramatic play in child development, Bright Horizons is a proud sponsor of Puppet Playtime at Puppet Showplace Theatre. This weekly interactive performance for young children fosters the same principle as our dramatic play areas. LEARN MORE.

Performers Phil Berman and Brenda Huggins with Bella Monster in Puppet Playtime
lead toddlers in imaginary play at the grocery store

Worldly Folktales at Puppet Showplace!

Puppets Around the World series of puppetry styles and folktales from across the globe continues with...

One World, Many Stories
by Sparky's Puppets

Thur & Fri, March 13 & 14 @ 10:30 am
Sat & Sun, March 15 & 16 @ 1:00 and 3:00pm


Have you ever wanted to travel the world? Get on board with Sparky’s Puppets for a storytelling adventure that takes you across the globe!

About the Performance: Take a trip around the world with Sparky's Puppets in this delightful, interactive performance featuring funny folktales from Asia, Africa, and Europe. Visit a friendly family of mice in Japan. Laugh at the antics of West African trickster Anansi the Spider. Then, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, meet a mischievous leprechaun who proves very hard to catch!

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!"

Learn more about Sparky’s Puppets here.

Join us for a hilarious show of travelling, magic, and puppets!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Chinese Folktales at Puppet Showplace!

"Puppets Around the World"
Series of puppetry styles and folktales from across the globe continues with...

Tales of a Mysterious Land
by Applause Unlimited
Thurs & Fri, March 6 & 7 at 10:30am
Sat & Sun, March 8 & 9 at 1pm & 3pm


Scene from "Tales of a Mysterious Land" by Applause Unlimited
Last week at Puppet Showplace, Christopher Hudert of Applause Unlimited dazzled audiences with his storytelling and puppetry performance during "Aesop's Fables."  Travel with us this week to China as we explore Chinese Folktales with masks, puppets, and Christopher's signature storytelling performance style!

Characters from the Chinese Folktale, "The Long Hair Girl" by Applause Unlimited

About the show: Discover the rich diversity of Chinese folklore through three folk tales brought to life with puppets, masks, and theatrical storytelling. Learn how the waterfall got its name in the story of “The Long Hair Girl.” Then, in “The God of Faces,” meet a talented old painter who finds out that doing your best work has value beyond measure. Finally, silliness ensues in “The Story of the House” when three unlikely characters try to share the same dwelling. Drawn from Buddhist, Tung, and Shui traditions, these stories are sure to stir the heart and stimulate the imagination of audiences young and old!

Christopher Hudert of Applause unlimited in a scene from "Tales of a Mysterious Land"
About the Artist: Applause Unlimited cofounder Christopher Hudert began his theatrical carreer at an early age, performing with The Children's Theater of Richmond, Puppetfest Productions, and other Virginia-based companies. While pursuing a degree in Theater Education, Christopher joined the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and toured for 9 years across the United States and Japan. After achieving the rank of Boss Clown, he left the circus to create his own company with master puppeteer Terry Snyder. Since its founding, Applause Unlimited has received two UNIMA Citations of Excellence, the highest recognition in American puppetry, and has performed in theaters and at festivals worldwide.