Puppet Festival (r)Evolution Draws Hundreds of Puppeteers to Swarthmore To Celebrate Vibrant Art & Artists, Aug.
SWARTHMORE, PA — Offering a dynamic range of artists embodying the diversity of American puppet theater, Puppet Festival (r)Evolution, the 2013 National Festival of the Puppeteers of America, will connect audiences with puppet artists through performances and events from August 5 – 10 at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA. For six days, audiences can see afternoon and evening performances featuring multiple combinations of hand, shadow, toy, rod and body puppets, as well as traditional and Czech-style marionettes, in productions that range from family-friendly to material that is strictly for mature audiences. Puppet Festival (r)Evolution performances take place in venues and alternative spaces on campus of Swarthmore College and in the town of Swarthmore. Hilary Chaplain channels Lucy Ricardo and Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp to create a world out of everyday objects. Bereaved of her twin sister Ava, septuagenarian Ada solitarily marks time in the patterns of a life built for two. A fun-loving family adventure that follows a boy and his dog as they discover a buried treasure map only to be kidnapped by a crew of pirates and their captain, who turns out to be a young girl. Audiences with a taste for the zany and fun will enjoy this fast paced, high-energy puppet play that follows the adventures of Billy and his friend Suzy as Billy tells more and more lies that get him into more and more trouble. This contemporary fable investigates the desire to live beyond human limitations through the use of technology. Guided by flashlights into a dark room, 25 adults at a time will experience this frightfully funny exploration of the curious phenomenon of 19th Century “waiting mortuaries” that resulted from the almost universal fear of being buried alive. Based on over 40 stories collected by artists during visits with local care facility residents, this poignant new production explores the rich creative potential and ability to communicate that exists in people with late-stage dementia and their caregivers.
The Japanese legend of a Jyorogumo serves as the basis for this fusion of Japanese physical theater, unconventional puppetry and mask with a touch of ghost story and surrealism. Legendary puppeteers Jim Henson and Frank Oz both proclaimed Dick Myers as “the genius of American Puppetry” for his one-man puppet performances that toured Europe, the Soviet Union, Japan and the United States in the 1960s and 70s. A delightful show that is truthful and sincere, The Joshua Showhas the look and feel of an episode of a classic children’s television show featuring grumpy Mr.
Klezmer music sets the mood as tabletop, glove and shadow puppet characters spring from every dusty corner and empty cereal box. Loosely based on Kenneth Grahame’s book, The Reluctant Dragon tells the story of the day Princess Penelope met and befriended a dragon at the very same time the celebrated dragon slayer, Sir Reginald Thwebes, came to town.

Three back-to-back shadow plays replicate the spirit and wonder of early silent movies, including live piano accompaniment. Set during the two decades of 1935-55, The Struggle for Justice tells the story of an African American man’s experience in the Jim Crow south of Mississippi.
The Woodchoppers Opera is an original tale featuring rod puppets, flat cardboard puppets and moving props to tell the story of a woodchopper who enjoys his successful timesaving device until a time-traveller shows him the unintended future consequences of his invention. The Puppeteers of America, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of puppetry, was founded in 1937 and provides information, encourages performances and builds a community of people who love puppets and puppet theater. The PofA’s membership consists of over one thousand puppeteers and friends of puppetryfrom across the United States.
This bi-annual Festival showcases some of the best work being done by award-winning puppeteers across the country and offers opportunities to engage with career puppet artists through workshops, talks and community events. Each morning begins by pushing boundaries and expanding skills during dozens of workshops held for puppeteers and interested attendees to gain experience in business, education, craft or performance.
Full registration packages for the week, including performances, talks, workshops, housing and meal plans, are on sale now. Waking alone in bed, she finds an engagement ring in a box of Lucky Charms, marries a lamp with a paper towel veil, honeymoons in Hawaii, gives birth, performs a bris and learns how to take care of a new born life.
In this fantastic and supernatural story of two sisters separated by death and reunited by phenomenal circumstances, handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic motifs and live sound manipulation create an immersive theatrical live-movie exploring mourning, melancholy, self and other. When the crew mutinies and tries to force the Captain and the Boy to walk the plank, the Dog’s new friends help to save the day. Surprisingly warm, brought to life by Czech-style marionettes with rod puppets, over-sized toy theater and found objects. In a visceral mix of object art, rod puppets, shadow puppets and projection with live actors, Bird Machine delivers Leo, the dreamer obsessed with flying, and the Emperor, who fears that a new technology will eventually destroy his city’s walls.
Puppeteer Deborah Kaufman based the work on historical and medical facts, playing with scale and becoming her tiny characters to magnify the action. Featuring rod puppets, kites and flags from independent artists as well as the Jim Henson Creature Shop and Guildworks, the show incorporates the audience with interactive live music and performance. D-Generation is a stunning collaboration between Sandglass Theater, Michel Moyse (video), Paul Dedell (music), Sabrina Hamilton (lighting) and Roberto Salomon (direction) featuring a cast of rear-rod puppet residents who join a story circle at their local care facility.

Under the direction of Bart Roccoberton, Head of the renown University of Connecticut Puppet Arts program, MFA Puppet Arts student Seth Shaffer mounts this restoration of Myers’ original puppets and two of his shows. Nicholas, who has to learn how to trick himself into being happy on days when he can’t seem to find a smile in his head. After invoking great-grandpa Hershel, a young man’s shabby apartment transforms to reveal the world of traditional Yiddish folktales.
In an unconventional and thoroughly intimate one-man show, shadow, hand and body puppets are combined with Czech-style marionettes, objects, video and music to revisit personal history through the various means of documentation and objects we all keep that help us preserve our past. When King Rhubarb charges Sir Reginald to fight the dragon, these colorful moving-mouth hand puppets and rod puppets raises questions about loyalty, friendship and understanding as a girl and her dragon prepare to fight to the death with humor and heart. Determined to overcome the discrimination, violence and intimidation he faces, he sets out to prove his courage as a way of getting the respect he deserves and in the process realizes the depth of his human potential. This deceptively comic production uses original songs set to familiar tunes played by accordion, whistles, bells and novelty horns, and will leave 21st century audiences talking. Mid-week, festival goers can sit in for intimate conversations with Emmy-award nominated puppeteer Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street), Folkmanis® Puppets creators Judy and Atis Folkmanis, and Avenue Q puppet creator Rick Lyon, who originated the roles of Trekkie Monster, Nicky and blue Bad Idea Bear in the multiple Tony-award winning Broadway production, and whose characters have also been seen on Nickelodeon, MTV Networks and Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers. Single tickets to events throughout the Festival will go on sale to the general public beginning June 1.
Each tales leaves scraps behind, and as all the pieces make their way into the soup pot, the young man discovers what it truly is to savor a good story.
This production features a panorama of southern culture through a large number of custom transparent leather shadow puppets, performed in a style adapted freely from traditional Indonesian wayang kulit theater. The PofA also provides access to resources and venues to share knowledge and best practices and create opportunities to connect with other puppeteers, the American public and international puppet artists. Wells short story of the same name, completes the trilogy with optical illusions used to suggest what may, or may not, be lurking in the dark.

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