Shows I’d Like to See


A Heart at Sea. Photo by Half a String. 

The wonderful thing about social media is that it enables us to maintain connections with theaters in other parts of the country and the world, and find out about the shows they are performing. The frustrating thing about social media is that I see all these cool pictures of inspiring shows that I won’t get to see in person. Here are three shows either currently running or that have just closed that I wish I could magically teleport to go see.

JUNK at Little Angel Theatre in London.
This immersive kid’s show using recycled materials looks like a really fun way to learn about the recycling process! Some of the puppets look like they have a resemblance to some of our characters from Cabinets of Kismet and I’d love to hear what the voices sound like and see how the audience is encouraged to move from space to space during the show.

NO BLUE MEMORIES at Manual Cinema with the Poetry Foundation and Chicago International Puppet Festival.
I’m a huge fan of Manuel Cinema and their innovative ways of combining actors and overhead projector shadow puppets. I also like Gwendolyn Brooks’ poetry, so this show looks amazing and I hope some day I’ll get to see it!

A HEART AT SEA by Half a String, currently touring the UK.
The live music and mechanical set is what attracted me to this show about a boy who bottles up his heart and throws it in the sea. I love puppetry that includes interplay between actors and puppets, especially if there’s a big variation in scale. The intricate workings of this tabletop set are fascinating and I hope in the future they bring it to the US and share it with audiences here.

June Grab Bag

A roundup of articles, videos and more that we highlighted on Twitter this month. 

A new book from Ashley Bryan. See #3.

A new book from Ashley Bryan.     See #2.

1. Paul McCartney. And a robot puppet. Dancing together in this video. Need I say more?

2. Children’s author Ashley Bryan makes puppets from found objects washed up on the beach near his home on Little Cranberry Island, Maine. Read this interview from Publisher’s Weekly about his new book of puppets coming out this summer.

3. ADORABLE tabletop puppetry is featured in the production Moominsummer Madness from Polka Theatre in London. Based on the stories of legendary author Tove Jansson, you should definitely check this out if you are in the UK.

4. A gallery of Drabbits from the fabulous Imaginarium Galleries in Pennsylvania.

5. I think it’s safe to say that Julie Taymor’s work on Disney’s The Lion King was the first glimpse many people had of non-Sesame Street puppets. It’s coming back to the Kennedy Center this summer.

September Grab Bag

The Light Princess, a new musical with puppetry at the National Theatre in London.

The Light Princess, a new musical with puppetry at the National Theatre in London.

A quick note here with a VERY short September grab bag. We are in the midst of building puppets for Fábulas Mayas and battling illness as well as stubborn cardboard and dull X-acto blades. However, I wanted to highlight two puppet projects from the UK; one of which I saw in Edinburgh this summer and another which just opened at the National Theatre in London.

1. Bunk Puppets is a one-man operation with several shows in repertoire. Slapdash Galaxy, which I saw as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, tells the story of two brothers who leave their home planet in search of a new home. The puppets are shadow puppets, but projected from the front onto a screen, rather than from behind, the way all our shadow work has been created. At the end of the piece, 3D glasses are handed out and the shadows turn three-dimensional in an impressive display. If you find yourself at a festival or in a city where Bunk Puppets is performing, be sure to check them out.

2. A much larger project is The Light Princessan original musical by Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson based on the 19th century fairy tale by George MacDonald, which just opened at the National Theatre in London. Part of the creative team worked on War Horse at the National Theatre and this new play also includes puppetry. The story of a princess who cannot cry and is in danger of just floating away, this sounds like a magical new piece that I would definitely see if I were lucky enough to be in London this fall! Amos talks about the process of writing the show in an article here.