As mainstream as puppetry can be -- from The Muppets: Most Wanted to Avenue Q to the puppety presence is ads for LendingTree, Jack in the Box, and who knows what else -- as a theatrical artform it remains very much outside the mainstream. Sure, puppetry is used to great effect by companies such as Rogue Artist Ensemble and The Visceral Company, but that rather proves the point. The companies that consistently avail themselves of this uniquely theatrical artform are the iconoclastic companies on the outermost limits of mainstream theatrical production. The outré ones. The fringiest of Los Angeles theater.
For the second year, LA Puppet Fest is celebrating this artform with workshops and performances across the Greater Los Angeles area. The fest began on April 1st, and continues through this weekend, affording the opportunity to take in masterful theatrical puppetry, and learn a thing or two about how to bring the magic of puppetry to your stage.
Here's the press release, so you know what's going on:
LA Puppet Fest 2014 continues with Puppet Theater, Workshops & Skirball Family Puppet Festival
Friday: Evening of Puppetry and Song
Saturday: Intro to Puppet Sketch; Wonder of Shadow Puppetry; Future of Puppetry; Minimalism Times Three Plus One Show
Sunday: Skirball Puppet Festival, a family celebration LA Puppet Fest 2014: City-Wide Celebration of the Art and Creativity of all things Related to Puppetry with Events for Children and Adults through April 13LA Puppet Fest 2014, back for its second year, is a city-wide celebration dedicated to sharing and promoting the art of puppetry through performances and workshops. Taking place from April 1 – 13, spanning from Santa Monica, West Los Angeles to West Hollywood and Hollywood, LA Puppet Fest promises to offer entertainment and educational activities with something for everyone. Over 25 events are scheduled, many appropriate for children and families, as well as adult only programs. www.LAPuppetFest.com
Friday, April 11, 8 p.m.: Tales of Longing and Belonging: The Losing, Finding and Making of Place, an Evening of Puppetry and Song – $15 or $20 VIP; All ages Elephant Stage’s Lillian Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038 - "Tales of Longing and Belonging" is an evening of giant and tiny puppetry and live music for all ages. "Hue - the suitcase show" is a young boy's colorful search to find a place where he belongs; songs of Cuñao explore the journey of history, loss and search for new place, and "The Nomad" features episodes from the life of Dominique Moody who creates beautiful assemblage from the shards of the past. Shadow puppets, Toy Theater, a giant puppet or two, and storytelling combined with live music to bring these tales to life. A One Grain of Sand Puppet Production.
Grain of Sand Puppet Theater, Tales of Longing and Belonging
Cast Includes: Gina Fields, Beth Peterson, Jamie Kim, Jonathan Alvarez, and Ezra, Vince, Luis, Aida and friends
Music: Cuñao - Julio Cesar Montero, Jr.; Severin Behnen
Beth Peterson created puppet shows, pageants and parades for over a decade and a half at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in Minneapolis, MN and for the last ten years with One Grain of Sand Puppet Theater in Los Angeles in venues ranging from the lobby of Walt Disney Concert Hall and opening of Grand Park, to South Coast Repertory Theater, Inner City Arts, Skirball Center and LA neighborhoods including Highland Park, Koreatown and Leimert Park.
Saturday, April 12: Workshops, Roundtable & Show
Asylum Lab, 1078 Lillian Way, Hollywood 90038
12:00 p.m.: Introduction to Puppet Sketch with Erik Kuska - $25; All Ages
Love puppets but having a hard time coming up with new ideas? Love sketch comedy but not really sure how its done? Need help finding the ‘funny’ in your work, or just need some motivation to get some writing done? Well this is the workshop for YOU.
Erik Kuska and friend, "Introduction to Puppet Sketch"
These sketch writing techniques apply to ALL writing, whether its a feature length script or writing a monologue to start your show. The idea is, better writing gives you better puppetry. So bring a pen, paper, and get ready take the next step toward being a better writer. We'll examine sketch formats, discuss how to play to your puppetry strengths, and learn how to develop ideas more efficiently.
Elephant Stage’s Lillian Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038
2:30 p.m.: Exploring the Wonder of Shadow Puppetry with Leslie K.Gray - $25; Ages 10+
Shadow puppets are an integral part of rituals and arts all over the world, but not so prevalent in Western culture. Come join theater artist Leslie K. Gray for a hands on workshop that explores the techniques of shadow puppetry, ancient and modern. Create your own shadow puppet presentations using light to create images from reflected darkness! This two hour workshop is designed to be an intensive for ages 10 and up. If you are able to bring a pair of scissors, a pencil, ordinary sheets of paper (office recycled is fine), and any items you think might cast interesting shadows, you will be onestep ahead in creating your own shadow puppet show!
5 p.m.: Future of Puppetry Round Table; guests to be announced. Moderator: Eric Lynxwiler - $15 or $20 VIP; All Ages
Young puppetry professionals share their perspective about where the art form is going and what they are doing to help it advance their way.
8 p.m.: Minimalism Times Three Plus One - $15 or $20 VIP; Ages 12+
The show opens with a preview of “206 - The Church of Bones” written and created by Sean T. Cawelti and Morgan Rebane. An original multidisciplinary puppet and media performance exploring the relationship between death and consumerism based on true events spanning a 700 year history at a single church in the Czech Republic.
Minimalism Times Three Plus One
Following that are three pieces in the Minimalist style. Each one tells a different story with a single object. The goal of this limitation is to foster a high degree of creative thinking while at the same time unearthing the emotional potential of the most common of objects. The thoughts and imagination of the audience are directed towards the formation of new associations for everyday objects and materials. It is these associations that give birth to the fun and entirely original puppetry images typical of a Minimalist Puppetry show. A MUST see. VIP tickets include priority seating and meet and greet with the cast.
Sunday, April 13, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Skirball Puppet Festival: A Family Celebration of the Wonders of Puppet Theater
Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 North Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles 90049 $10 general; $7 Seniors/Students; $5 Children 2-12; Free to Skirball Members; all ages Limited advance tickets: Available on site at the Skirball, online at www.skirball.org, or by phone at (877) SCC-4TIX or (877) 722-4849. Walk up tickets subject to availability. Advance tickets recommended. Free passes and discount coupons are not valid on festival day.
Join the Skirball for its third annual celebration of the art of puppetry, featuring interactive puppet performances, shadow puppetry, live music, art making, spectacular strolling puppets, an interactive display from the Los Angles Guild of Puppetry, and more. This campus-wide, daylong festival brings together some of Southern California’s most talented puppeteers and artists, working in a range of cultural and artistic styles. A day of imaginative storytelling and innovation sure to amaze visitors ages 2 to 102!