The wheels are still wobbly, but Skimpa wants a test drive.
So happy to have a grant from the Arlington Cultural Council to create “The Trolls and the Tree: An Immersive Theater Piece for Children” with Ann Wynne and Peter Lehman. In the story, two trolls agree to take care of an idyllic fairy garden. But, when there’s not space enough in the garden for their toaster, TV, and lawn chairs next to the tree, guess which item gets moved?
Many friends are designing woodland seat covers for our show! Here are a few.
Happy to have been performing in parks, preschool yards and gardens! My first in-person show of 2021 was for a 90th birthday party on a sparkling summer evening in Gloucester. By August, the days were more sweat than sparkle and what a relief to go inside for a Puppet Day. But all hail to the battery-operated sound system that makes performing outside so easy!
Monkey King opening the season in a Gloucester backyard
Manchester Public Library, with DreamTale Puppets
Fall River library, outside, with “Badger Meets the Fairies”
Runs on a rechargeable battery, fits in a backpack.
At Magnolia Park, busking
Amazing Fall River librarian preparing for Shark Week
Hungry puppet, Puppet Day at Country Cottage Center in Medway
Cow and his good friend Mouse love to play and picnic — until it’s time to share dessert. Join Margaret for this gentle farm fable at 10am on Saturday, July 17. And please stay after to try out some fun puppets!
Best for ages 3 to 7. All welcome. FREE.
AT: Magnolia Park, 111 Magnolia Street, East Arlington, MA
Skimpa and Blompa, my favorite trolls, are practicing for Bubblefest — a socially distanced 2020 rendition of Arlington Porchfest, happening on June 7. Want more information? www.arlingtonporchfest.org
Every two months Arlington Council on Arts and Culture highlights an artist who’s actively contributing to the Arlington arts scene. In December and January, I’m the featured artist on the Arts Arlington site sponsored by ACAC.
The artist statement was fun to write because it gave room to think about why I perform and what the work is like. Here’s the part that gets to the heart of working on a new show: My newest show is “Taking Turns,” which features pigs, dogs and bunnies. Sandra and I used needle-felting techniques to make animal puppets. We took big balls of wool and punched them with needles to create little pigs and dogs. I find that their fuzzy surfaces appeal to young children more than the painted faces of our Sculpey puppets.
Although the show opened in August I am still spending many hours each week refining the way I portray the characters. The hardest thing is to slow down, let a puppet “breath” between steps, and wait for the character to form its thoughts before I speak for it. Often, I ask friends to watch and advise. Jacek Zuzanski of Dream Tale Puppets and retired “puppet diva” Suzanne Pemsler have been terrific coaches.
This month I am a “Top Performer” on GigSalad.com! Part of the rating is that my shows have gotten 5-star reviews from parents and preschool directors on GigSalad. I hope you’ll take a minute to read their comments:
Most of my reviews are about birthday parties, which are a lot of fun. Usually I perform a 30-minute show and lead puppet making. My favorite supplies are toilet paper rolls, construction paper and yarn in all colors. Here are some photos of toilet roll puppets on the move, and a sock puppet who feel asleep guarding her pizza.
Tsai Su-jen is the troupe leader for the I Wan Jan Traditional Hand Puppet Troupe based in Sanchih, Taiwan. She and her family also operate the Li Tien-lu Puppetry Museum, which I was very happy to visit in August. Su-jen is the daughter-in-law of Li Tien-lu and puts a lot of warm energy into burnishing his legacy.
I also had the chance to see a performance by Chen Hsi-huang, who has been designated a “National Treasure” in Taiwan for puppet performance and puppet-making. Funny and beautiful!
Here is the view on a foggy morning from Yangmingshan, where I stayed with my father-in-law.