Center for Puppetry Arts

No comments

Puppets, Muppets, what am I doing here?

Answer: Entertaining my mom who visited during Christmas. 

The Center for Puppetry Arts is, in my opinion, an entertainment option that doesn't get much attention in Atlanta.  Downtown Atlanta is abundant with other possibilities.  Start with the money sucking center for puppetry arts logo behemoth that is the Georgia Aquarium, the obligatory World of Coke, and the ho-hum CNN center and you have the main draws.  Add in the High Museum of Art, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the Fox Theater, the Margaret Mitchell house, the Carter Center, the MLK, Jr. National Historic Site... there's attractions galore. And for the less cerebral with a willingness to drive a little further, there's always Stone Mountain, Six Flags over Georgia, Whitewater, or a stroll around Lenox Mall.

Still, curiosity resulted in a venture to this lesser constellation.  The Center has regularly programmed puppet shows, a puppet museum (yes, with Muppets), and an educational facility directed towards local and distance learning in the art.

As one might expect, most performances are directed towards younger audiences, and as the schedule did not allow beggars to be choosers, we went to see "The Shoemaker & the Elves," a Grimm Brothers story (1812 - but a traditional tale) about an aging cobbler at the end of his business which is suddenly rejuvenated by the arrival of two misfit elves, Frankie and Gino.

The show was presented in the "Downstairs Theater," a 170-seat venue that was fairly narrow but very well suited due to a steep incline to allow clear views for all.  My particular showing was about 80% adults, which was surprising. The performance was very entertaining, running about 45 minutes, with the puppeteers briefly introducing themselves and their craft at the end.

The set is the workshop of Mr. Footmeyer's shoe store.  It features counters, a radio, and a window that is effectively used to depict other places and transition between scenes.  After all, you can't really Shoemaker and the Elvesalter the set.  The performance was tightly rehearsed with both puppeteers/actors in strong voice.

Even without the benefit of the museum, you learn a bit about hand-and-rod puppets, rod puppets, and shadow puppets, each of which are demonstrated at the conclusion of the show.  I hadn't really thought about "puppetry," but the work is done from below, meaning the puppeteer performs with arms raised inside the puppet - as opposed to marionettes which are controlled from below.  In other words, it requires some strength and conditioning.

The Center itself, despite a $9M renovation some years ago to a fairly ancient school building, feels old, and doesn't "show" particularly well (or as well as the photograph).  Center for Puppetry Arts The museum has some interesting displays... and some not.  It is funded in part by public grants, which isn't unexpected, but non-member ticket prices for the general public aren't insignificant either ($16).  These obviously go towards funding all their endeavors, but the price is likely to prompt a "been there, done that" attitude for all but enthusiasts.

Still, it was a worthwhile diversion and it is highly recommended for those looking for something different to do.  Oh, and parking is free at the rear of the building, an extravagance by Atlanta standards.

No comments :

Post a Comment