Archive for July, 2011

National Puppetry Festival

July 27, 2011

This video is a small snippet from the Ghastly Dreadfuls’ puppet show at the Atlanta Puppetry Center. The Dreadfuls have a full- blown hour plus show of macabre vignettes including music. It is just a small example of the wonderfulness that IS the festival.

The Puppeteers of America is a national organization that supports, educates and showcases American puppeteers. What that means is that we are a group of professionals and amateurs that take inanimate objects and give them life. These “shows” range from birthday party gigs to cabaret acts, and everything, imaginable,in between, from dance, black light to Punch and Judy.

There are puppet troupes and puppet theaters all over the nooks and crannies of the United States. Puppet Slams with renegade puppet acts are cropping up all over as well. Every other year the Puppeteers of America host a National Puppet Festival so that everyone in the art of puppetry can come together, share ideas, and showcase shows. These wonderful shows during the festival are only open to attendees. We, in the audience, all know “how it is done”,but are simply amazed at our colleagues’ creativity, talent, manipulation techniques and above all, passion for the art. After the show, the artists invite their fellow puppeteers up behind the stage to check out the rigging and ask questions. Puppeteers are usually self taught and are eager to pass the knowledge on.

Lest you think that these shows are only for children, keep in mind that we see shows that are crafted by the puppeteers who worked on “Strings”, “Being John Malkovich”, and Muppet Movies. We also see shows, like the one above that are geared for adult audiences. Some rival theater and dance productions.

Also, during the week there are over 30 different workshops to take, everything from building, manipulation, grant writing, setting up businesses to puppetry in education are included. This year I taught a workshop on how to align puppet shows to state and local curriculum standards.

I took two workshops, one by Paul Spirito from UConn’s puppet studio on using a variety of materials, and what the pros and cons of those materials were, and the other from Robin Walsh on designing, making and manipulating a scarf marionette. I am eager to use the knowledge that I got, and have a cabaret act in mind using a scarf marionette that I would like to work on and maybe present one potpourri evening. (Potpourri is sort of like open mic night at your local pub, but without the liquor, but WITH the rowdy audience).

So now I look forward to the next festival in 2 years. I have lots of things to work on, and think about.

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Harvest time in the garden

July 19, 2011

I just came back from the National Puppetry Festival (more to come when I am finished processing what I saw in my mind…good stuff!). We are in the middle of a huge bean harvest. Of course we DID plant 100 seeds, and now they are all coming to fruition. The husband takes the beans, flash boils them for 2 minutes, then puts them in “seal a meal” type plastic bags (vacuum packed) with a bit of butter and then freezes them in a 2 serving size. So, in the winter, all we have to do is toss the bag into boiling water and cook the beans in the butter, inside the bag. Doesn’t get any easier than that.

The miracle of growing-garden update

July 4, 2011


I am so excited about the garden. Why? Because unlike other mundane day-to-day activities, the garden actually is different every time you look at it. It is a living breathing entity, that changes as it grows. It supports a host of other living things, from potato larvae (boo) to lady bugs (yeah). It will sustain me when the plants offer up their produce. Going to the garden is life affirming. Everywhere you look there are patches of green plants that others’ have tended. Birds are continually swooping down, and posing on our tomato cages. Butterflies, moths, bees flit from plant to flower. Occasionally I see another gardener bent over, weeding and tending, perhaps even talking to their plants. The Garden Master, is ever present waiting for any early produce to be donated. I see from the chart that pounds of peas have already found their way to local soup kitchens. The Childrens’ Garden has signs painted from the individual classrooms declaring ownership of their plots. It is great fun to roam through the community garden to see what is growing from net covered blueberry plants, to plants used to dye wools by a serious knitter.

Last week at the Zimmerli’s Art Camp

July 2, 2011




Last week I taught puppetry to children enrolled in the Zimmerli’ Art Museum’s annual Summer Camp. There were two classes. The first class was for ages 7-11, and the second class for 12-14. At the conclusion of the class, those who were finished gave a puppet show. The “bigger kids” made the larger puppets.