Spring hasn’t sprung the way we all thought it would in Detroit. So with Mother Nature being a bit of a tease, there’s no better time to stay inside and take in a show at the fabulous PuppetART Center.
This gem for all ages is located in Detroit’s Theater District, just a few blocks from the Michigan Opera Theater, Music Hall and the Gem and Century Theaters. And the location is truly fitting. This is true theater.
If you must, call it art mixed with entertainment as well. My family and I took in a show recently. During which, Artistic Director Igor Gozman explains that everything that is described as art takes place during a puppet show: acting, painting, sculpture, dance, song, literature. Stories of all kinds are told here – poetry, political satire, folktales, legends, fairytales, myths.
Since 1998, artists and puppeteers from a variety of international origins (its foundation are a trio of former Soviet Union puppeteers who have toured together since 1995) have provided a regular rotation of classic stories. Every month, there is a different show.
Every production is lush, and part of that is due to the people who make sure the show can go on. People contribute through tickets as well as Kickstarter campaigns, like the one that helped produce the popular “Snow Queen” over the winter.
To be honest, the economic downturn has been hard on PuppetART. The reason? people are staying close to home, worried about paying for gas and cutting back on expenditures. But this is a great place for culture, diversity and showmanship.
The 70-person theater is intimate. There are seats close enough to help the tiny ones see all the action yet enough room for kids in elementary or middle school to spread out. The stage is small, but so are the actors so you get used to it. And it is never stagnate – the puppets move across it like ballerinas. Then, out of the blue, the stage shifts, a curtain moves or a scene changes in a way you didn’t expect. It is magical, even for us old folks.
And there’s more than just the show here. There’s the studio, where children and parents can learn how to make puppets and move them about. There’s the museum, where the art work created for PuppetART’s shows and others are on a rotating display.
April’s show is “Turtle Island,” based on Native American folk lore. The shows are only on the weekends, unless you have one of the lucky schools that go during the week. Call ahead for reservations; sometimes, shows can sell out in advance.