The "Puppets Take Long Island" festival offers kids the opportunity to become puppet groupies when 13 different puppeteer companies visit throughout the summer.
Families can attend nearly 100 indoor and outdoor performances of marionettes, giant puppets, hand puppets, rod puppets and shadow puppets. They can take part in puppet-making workshops, meet artists after performances and learn how performers develop characters and voices.
Kids can see Henrietta the singing chicken, who only wants to be a Broadway star. Her problem: The farmer is going to put her in a stew if she doesn't produce an egg by morning. They can meet Galapagos George, a tortoise from the Galapagos Islands. And they'll laugh at the squirrel puppet who steals Sylvie's underwear when she's sent to the backyard to hang up the laundry.
"Puppets are a wonderful introduction to the performing arts," says Maureen Mangan, director of communications and marketing for the Long Island Children's Museum, which is spearheading the festival along with the Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre of Sag Harbor.
SHOWS START MONDAY
The festival begins on Monday, July 8 with "The Snowflake Man" performed by Puppet Kabob at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Long Island Children's Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City. The marionette show tells the story of Wilson Bentley, who becomes the first person to photograph a single snow crystal. The show is $5 in addition to museum admission of $12, $11 for seniors and free for babies younger than 1.
But the official "kickoff" celebration is from noon to 4 p.m. July 10 at the Children's Museum, with "Punch and Judy in the Kitchen" shows at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. and the Puppeteers Cooperative premiere of "Little Inga and Mother Earth" at 4 p.m. That outdoor show features giant puppets, and visitors can become part of the performance by playing live music and joining in a puppet parade. Workshops will let children create cone puppets, spoon puppets and sock puppets. The kickoff activities are included in museum admission.
A festival website, puppetstakelongisland.com, details the plots of the summer's shows, appropriate ages, times, dates and locations. It lists workshop topics and times. It also includes brief "behind-the-scenes" interviews with the puppeteers and links to their individual company websites. A "calendar" tab gives day-by-day event listings.
FROM NEAR AND FAR
Puppeteers will be coming from as far away as Prague -- the "Puppets in Prague" company is scheduled to perform "Snehurka (Snow White)" at Goat on a Boat, Amagansett Square and the Long Island Children's Museum. Czech marionettes will tell the well-known fairy tale, and after the show children will be invited onstage to examine the marionettes created by Czech puppet master Mirek Trejtnar.
"This isn't a company families would easily be able to see," Mangan says. "It's wonderful from a cultural point of view."
Says puppeteer Liz Joyce, founder and director of Goat on a Boat: "It's the antidote to all the technology, screen time and distractions kids have. It's a real-time event they experience with other people."
WHAT Puppets Take Long Island, 97 indoor and outdoor performances at eight locations
Long Island Children's Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City; Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre, 4 Hampton St., Sag Harbor; Amagansett Square, Main Street, Route 27; Southampton Center, 25 Jobs Lane; Planting Fields Arboretum, 1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay; Long Island Puppet Theater, 10 Heitz Place, Hicksville; Suffolk Theater, 118 E. Main St., Riverhead; Floyd Memorial Library, 539 First St., Greenport
INFO Free to $17, depending on location; 516-224-5800, puppetstakelongisland.com
The Puppet Project is from 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, beginning Monday through Aug. 30, at the Long Island Children's Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City. Kids will make their own stick-and-rod puppets, come up with character personalities and put on a show. The cost is $4 plus museum admission of $12 a person. For details, call 516-224-5800 or go to licm.org.