We’ve had lots of special guests here at the Museum & Theatre over the years, and today we’re looking back at a special puppetry series that took place here at the museum in January of 1994. John Farrell of the Freeport-based – and world traveled – Figures of Speech Theatre devised and implemented What’s So Special About Puppets? which explored, in his own words, the “different realms of reality and experience you can juxtapose onstage.”*
Farrell demonstrated a number of different styles and techniques during these performances, immersing audiences in the art of storytelling with puppets ranging from Japanese bunraku figures to hand puppets to his own shadow cast against a scrim. On the first floor of the museum, a temporary workshop was set up where our visitors could see Farrell building puppets for a performance of The Nightingale (which this writer remembers seeing at a young age!), and What’s So Special About Puppets? demonstrations took place Wednesdays through Sundays throughout the month. He explored the fact that while most anything can become a puppet, the life given to it is what makes the performance.
Of the art of performance, the museum’s then-director of education Jacqueline Potter said, “You have to lose yourself to find yourself. We want children and adults here to experience that.”*
Indeed, over the twenty years that have passed since these workshops took place, we have hosted events, put on performances, and even brought puppets to life again on the floors of the museum. Live performance is an excellent teaching tool; we love looking back to see the different ways generations of kids have enjoyed learning through performance in the museum! (Keep your eye on our calendar for new puppet and theatre performances and opportunities!)
You can learn more about John Farrell and Figures of Speech Theatre at the Figures of Speech website, www.figures.org.
[*Source: “The Secret Lives of Puppets,” Fried, Suzy; Casco Bay Weekly, January 20, 1994; p.21]