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.
Join me at Artbeat , 212A Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington during February vacation week to see a puppet show, try your hand at puppetry, and make a puppet! Many thanks to Jan Whitted of Artbeat for a wonderful chance to showcase the fun of puppetry. Find a guide to performances and puppet-making below.
Performances, followed by time to play with puppets! Tickets available at brownpapertickets, or at the door:
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.
The ten days before opening a new puppet show feels like:
a) preparing for final exams;
b) getting ready to serve a 6-course dinner;
c) taking care of a very small puppy
If you chose a, b, or c, way to go! Ask the nearest puppet to pat you on the back. Today I opened “Taking Turns,” starring Mathilda and Doggie at Primrose School in Burlington. The show was two years in the making and it was exciting to bring it to an audience of enthusiastic four year-olds. The bouncy house was very popular. And so was the vibrant music composed and played by Paul Watkins. Here’s a prelude:
Truth be told, I have never cooked a 6-course dinner. But I should, as a thank you to all the people who helped me with these puppets and the show. Thanks to Sandra Pastrana (she made the original Mathilda and Doggie!), and Katherine Eberle for help with puppets and sets. I got good advice from folks at the Puppet Showplace Hatchery, and from the friendly, talented staff at Playtime in Arlington. Kak Madden, Maggie Whalen, Afaf, Bashir, Franny and Charles, thanks for watching the show in its painful beginning.
Why is creating a new show like taking care of a puppy? At the end of every day you have a big mess — and sometimes cute things, too.
Should you ask a monkey to take care of your heavenly peach garden? The Monkey King is thrilled to have a job in the heavens, but doesn’t play by the rules. Please join me for a tale of monkey trouble, performed with the Bu Dai Xi puppets and choreography I studied with Taiwan’s wonderful I Wan Traditional Puppet Troupe.
I’ll perform “Monkey Makes Mischief in Heaven” at the Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline, Massachusetts from Thursday to Sunday, November 15 to 18. Best for ages four and up.