“The Ice River,” an Episode of Journey to the West, Saturday, March 9 at 2pm
Malden Public Library, 36 Salem Street
A dream come true! I’ve always wanted to perform Bu Dai Xi in the traditional way, with musicians watching the puppets and creating rhythms and melodies for them. In “The Ice River”, our puppets’ movements are powered by musicians Jimmy Zhao and Kai-syin Hou on traditional instruments. Madeleine Beresford and I perform the story with choreography learned with Taiwan’s master, the late Li Tien-lu . Best for ages 5 and up, free to the public. Sponsored by Chinese Culture Connection with generous funding from the Malden Cultural Council, a local agency of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Rehearsing! Madeleine Beresford and Margaret Moody
The Dragon Princess in the Purple Bamboo Forest. Puppet by Sandra Pastrana
The mighty pig Ju Ba-jie and the River Monster King face off. Puppets: Pig by Li Chuan-tsain; Monster by Margaret Moody
Puppets and Planting, Saturday April 6
Lexington Community Farm, Lowell St, Lexington MA. Rain date April 7 TIME TBA
Join Lex Farm Education Director Rachel Curtin and I for a program about how plants grow. I’ll perform a vignette from a new story we are developing at Lex Farm: “Cow and Mouse in the Garden.” Cow wants to plant hay, while Mouse plants cheese, her favorite food. Then Rachel will lead songs and show everyone a good way to plant a seed. All children are welcome. $15 per family.
“Puppets and Planting” is funded by a generous grant from Arlington Cultural Council, a local agency of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
More Puppets and Planting dates at Lex Farm: 5/18 (rain date 5/19); Saturday October 19 (rain date October 20)
December 9: Monkey Makes Mischief in Heaven, 4pm, Wonder Yoga, 1305 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, as part of Arlington Heights Holiday Stroll.
The Chinese Monkey King soars into the heavens and delights in his new job in the Heavenly Peach Garden. But when he is left out of the Jade Emperor’s Peach Blossom Banquet, Monkey flies off to make mischief in the Heavens. This episode of the epic Journey to the West features traditional Bu Dai Xi puppets and choregraphy, which I studied with Taiwan’s I Wan Jan Troupe. Best for ages 5 and up.
November 12:The Trolls and the Tree (11:15) and Badger Meets theFairies at Arlington Open Studios, 20 Academy Street, Arlington
Join a lively bunch of fairies and trolls for a show at a wonderful Open Studios day! Ann Wynne and I perform puppets; Peter Lehman brings rich accompaniment with lute and mandolin. All shows are free, best for ages 4 and up.
Cow and Mouse were happy to be invited into the lovely barn at Mack’s Apples in Londonderry, NH on September 8th. A fun crowd of people watching, and some sweet sheep in the yard outside.
On October 14, I’ll be in the Greenwoods Puppet Festival in Norfolk, Connecticut, performing Bu Dai Xi in “The Ice River” with Madeleine Beresford of Galapagos Puppets; and appearing in “Alice in Wonderland(s)” by Dream Tale Puppets. The festival goes all day and everything is free, with the support of the Norfolk Library and the Battell Foundation. More here: PuppetFestival 2023 final
The puppet characters I’ve seen created in my “Puppet Pals” ACE class at Arlington’s Brackett School don’t flop on the couch. After acrobatics at the skate park, they go home to their dog and eat everything on the raspberry bushes. And they love to pose!
When we made moth and butterfly puppets last week I wondered what those puppets would do besides fly. It turned out that my kindergarten and first grade students knew the outline of their creatures’ life cycle. Puppets flew, drank nectar, injured a wing – -and healed it –before landing in a tree and laying eggs. Which became caterpillars who gobbled and spun chrysalises before flying away.
On July 13, Peter Lehman’s lute music brought the peaceful sense of a fairy woodland to the Elm Street tent outside Fall River Library. Children gathered on a rug, ready to meet fairies, squirrels . . . and trolls! In this interactive show, Peter, Ann Wynne and I want our audience members to have opinions — but we were surprised at how strongly they spoke to Skimpa the troll. “No, you can’t push down the tree!” “But I need space for my beautiful new chair,” she whined. “NO!” the children said.
When the trolls persisted in knocking over the tree, our faithful audience helped them plant a baby tree for distraught fairies. And, after trolls, fairies, puppeteers and our amazing musician took their bows, the children arrested the trolls! We know they will take good care of trees in the future.
THANK YOU, FALL RIVER CULTURAL COUNCIL!! This show was supported by a grant from the Fall River Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. And thank you to librarian David Mello for his incredible support of children and those who perform for them.
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
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.
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.