If you have followed for me for any time now, then you will know that I love the Center for Puppetry Arts® in Atlanta. It is one of our favorite places to get away to, and we are looking forward to even more adventures with their 2017-2018 line-up. Here’s a sneak peek!
Back by popular demand, the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball will return this year to mark the close of the Labyrinth: Journey to Goblin City, a 30th Anniversary Special Exhibit on August 31. In November, Indian Puppets: The Great Stories and Dancing Dolls will open in the Special Exhibits gallery. This will celebrate the cultural range of India through the diversity of its puppetry and storytelling.
Other Henson-related programming includes an extraordinary evening with the Women of the Muppets, featuring Henson’s first female puppeteer and Emmy award-winning performer Fran Brill. The event will also include Bonnie Erickson, the designer and builder of Miss Piggy, Statler and Waldorf, among others. Audiences will enjoy first-hand insights in what it was like to be part of the creative culture and revolutionary work of Jim Henson.
This season, Henson-related films will include a special screening of The Dark Crystal Fan Films. The event will present the winners and finalists of the Jim Henson Company’s Dark Crystal Fan Film Competition, in which fans created short films inspired by The Dark Crystal. Following the screening, there will be a talkback with Cheryl Henson and some of the filmmakers. The Center will also show the documentary I Am Big Bird, detailing the career of puppeteer Carroll Spinney, as well as family favorite Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. 2018 World Puppetry Day will also include a Henson twist as the Center celebrates Big Bird’s birthday on that special day.
“The Jim Henson collection is enticing a new audience to come to the Center. With that, we’re expanding the programming in the Museum in a way that allows guests to explore many more aspects of our collection, both as observers and participants,” said Vincent Anthony, Center for Puppetry Arts Founder and Executive Director. “With the ongoing expansion of our Museum programming, along with all of our performances and educational programming, we have rounded out our season in a way that allows visitors to get a complete experience of the art of puppetry.”
The Family Series will present some of the most popular titles in the Center’s repertoire. The season kicks off with high-flying entertainment in Cinderella Della Circus. This original production by Center for Puppetry Arts’ Artistic Director Jon Ludwig reimagines the classic fairytale by transporting Cinderella to a circus where she is a tightrope walker with oversized feet. For youngest audiences, the Center will perform Mother Goose, a feel-good, clap-along journey to find the missing Mother Goose in a production specifically designed with Theater for Young Audiences in mind. In the fall, the classic tale of Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White and adapted by Joseph Robinette, will have audiences cheering for friendship, love and good spelling. The celebrated Atlanta tradition Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™ will once again return to light up the holiday season.
In the New Year, Rainforest Adventures will take audiences on a journey from the treetops to the forest floor as anacondas, howler monkeys, sloths and other animals give a thrilling tour of the Amazon that promises to enthrall and educate. To close the series, the ever-mischievous Cat in the Hat, along with the zany antics of Thing One and Thing Two, will rhyme their way into hearts in this Center adaptation of the beloved book by Dr. Seuss.
This season’s guest artist lineup includes The Adventures of the Gingerbread Man and Billy Goats Gruff & Other Stuff by All Hands Productions of Atlanta as well as crowd favorites The Wizard of Oz, by Frisch Marionettes of Cincinnati, Ohio and The Three Little Pigs & More by Grey Seal Puppets of Charlotte, NC.
The Center will continue its Autism Spectrum Disorder initiative in the upcoming season, producing sensory-friendly programming for select Family Series productions that includes adjustments to the performance, the Create-A-Puppet Workshop™ and the Worlds of Puppetry Museum.
The New Directions Series for Adults and Teens will continue the Center’s commitment to puppet theater for all ages. In the dark comedy The Pigeoning by Robin Frohardt of Brooklyn, NY, an obsessive-compulsive office worker named Frank is hyper-focused on two things: cleanliness and pigeons. Convinced that the pigeons in the park are plotting against him, Frank sets out on an adventure to solve a problem that perhaps isn’t really there. The New York Times calls it “a tender, fantastical symphony of the imagination.”
Atlanta’s cult classic The Ghastly Dreadfuls will rise again this Halloween, and the Xperimental Puppetry Theater (XPT) will continue its tradition of presenting bold, original works in adult puppetry from artists from all disciplines. Inaugurated in 1983, this puppet performance lab celebrates 35 years of fostering creative new works in the field of puppetry.
In Education, the Explore Puppetry Series for ages 18+ will include workshops in everything from puppet creation and performance for film and television to commedia dell’arte. The Junior Explorers Series includes Puppet Camp and workshops in Claymation and animatronics, as well as the ever-popular Discovery Days. The Distance Learning Program, the Center’s award-winning digital platform, will continue to present curriculum-based workshops and puppet shows to the world—virtually. Distance Learning will also add the Worlds of Puppetry Museum programming to its digital offerings for the very first time. A brand new slate of Museum/Education Programming that will begin this summer, including Toddler Tuesdays, World Wednesdays and Museum EdVenture Days.
In addition to the variety of performance, educational and Museum programming, the Center also offers a robust Film Series that includes family favorites like “Where the Wild Things Are” and “ParaNorman,” as well as documentaries and talkbacks at select screenings.
Tickets prices vary for performances and other programs. Prices are available at PUPPET.ORG or by calling 404-873-3391.
The best way to experience the Center is by becoming a Member. Members receive up to 50 percent off tickets to performances and enjoy benefits like free museum entry, free films and priority seating. For more information to go PUPPETJOIN.COM or call the membership office at 404-881-5151.
2017-2018 FAMILY SERIES:
Cinderella Della Circus June 20-July 23, 2017
Adapted by Jon Ludwig
Billy Goats Gruff & Other Stuff Aug. 10-13, 2017
By All Hands Productions of Atlanta, GA
Mother Goose Aug. 15-Sept. 17, 2017
Adapted by Amy Sweeney
Theatre for the Very Young
Charlotte’s Web Sept. 19-Oct. 22, 2017
By E.B. White, Adapted by Joseph Robinette
The Three Little Pigs and More Oct. 24-Nov. 5, 2017
By the Grey Seal Puppets of Charlotte, NC
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™ Nov. 7-Dec. 31, 2017
Based on the classic television special
Adapted by Jon Ludwig
The Adventures of the Gingerbread Man Jan. 2-7, 2018
By All Hands Productions of Atlanta, GA
Rainforest Adventures Jan. 23-March 4, 2018
By Jon Ludwig, Stephanie Bogle & Raylynn Hughes
The Wizard of Oz March 6-18, 2018
By Frisch Marionnettes of Cincinnati, OH
Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat March 20-May 13, 2018
Based on the book by Dr. Seuss
Play originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain
Adapted and originally directed by Katie Mitchell
Center for Puppetry Arts production directed by Jon Ludwig
2017-18 NEW DIRECTIONS SERIES FOR ADULTS AND TEENS
The Ghastly Dreadfuls (ages 18+) Oct. 11-28, 2017
By Jon Ludwig and Jason Hines
The Pigeoning (ages 13+) Feb. 9-11, 2018
By Robin Frohardt, Brooklyn, NY
Xperimental Puppetry Theater (XPT) (ages 18+) May 10-13, 2018
By Various Artists
2017-18 FILM SERIES
Where the Wild Things Are June 3, 2017
The Adventures of Prince Achmed June 24, 2017
Screening includes a special lecture and book signing with
Whitney Grace, author of a book about the film’s
pioneering creator Lotte Reiniger.
ParaNorman Aug. 5, 2017
The Dark Crystal Fan Films Sept. 30, 2017
Screening & talkback with Cheryl Henson and the filmmakers
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Dec. 9, 2017
Shaun the Sheep Jan. 20, 2018
Tomorrow We Disappear Feb. 3, 2018
Screening and talkback with one of the directors
I Am Big Bird April 14, 2018
2017-18 SPECIAL MUSEUM PROGRAMING
Labyrinth Masquerade Ball Aug 31, 2017
Jim Henson Birthday Extravaganza Sept. 23, 2017
The Women of the Muppets March 3, 2018
Panel discussion featuring Fran Brill and Bonnie Erickson
World Puppetry Day March 24, 2018
2017-18 MUSEUM SPECIAL EXHIBITS
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Journey to Goblin City Now-Sept 3, 2017
Indian Puppets: The Great Stories and Dancing Dolls Opening Nov. 14, 2017