Detroit PuppetART Theater offers an opportunity to escape the heat with a summer season well worth a look. The theater’s rich, multicultural productions are known for having an eye for detail that should offer plenty to appreciate for both kids and adults.
The Crane Maiden, originally scheduled to round out June, gets an extended run into July (replacing the scheduled production, another run of Mouk’s Adventures, which originally ran back in April). This traditional Japanese folk tale tells the story of a man who saves the life of a wounded crane that transforms into a beautiful woman he then falls in love with. When the crane maiden gives the man a priceless fabric made from crane feathers, the man is faced with the choice of selling it but betraying his love. This production adds a self-reflexive quality by casting puppeteers doubling as actors playing the spirits of good and evil, literally pulling the strings of the main characters.
August’s production is Kolobok, a Russian version of the familiar The Gingerbread Man. Kolobok (a dumpling or bun) is baked by an elderly couple and magically comes to life. He escapes their home, only to encounter and outwit a series of forest animals who all try to eat him — until he meets the fox. Kolobok features originally scored music and is told from the perspective of two forest creatures, played by live actors.
The theater’s core is composed of artists classically trained in Russian puppeteering. The theater designs and manufactures all of its puppets in house, and composes music for its productions as well. They are known for doing extensive research and consulting in creating their backdrops and costumes, adding an extra level of cultural authenticity to their productions — a principle since the theater was founded 16 years ago. The PuppetART website provides a list of reading resources for teachers looking to make an outing into a full educational experience. See puppetart.org for more information. The theater also features a puppet museum and a studio for puppet-making and other educational workshops.
The PuppetART Theater is located at 25 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit; check puppetart.org or call 313-961-7777 for showtimes.
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