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LATE JULY: Motor City Puppet Blast 25-27 July

July 25-27, 2014

The puppets are coming in all shapes, sizes, and forms for seven different productions, appropriate for all ages, during the three days of the 2014 Puppeteers of America Great Lakes Regional Festival, July 25 through July 27. The Puppeteers of America, founded in Detroit in 1937, was the brainchild of Paul McPharlin, who formed the DIA's puppet collection.

Manual Cinema's unique blend of overhead projectors, shadow puppets, actors in silhouette, and live music can be hard to explain, according to the Chicago Tribune, but whatever it might be, a New York critic said he'd "never seen anything else like Lula Del Ray." This story of a lonely girl who, inspired by the songs of the Braden Brothers, a soulful country music duo, runs away from home into a world of danger, deception, and disappointment, can be seen Friday, July 25, at 7:30 p.m. Shadow puppets are also featured in Mefiez-Vous de la Vache Garou (Beware the Werecow!), a collection of scary stories, creepy comedy, and terrifying twists, all set in the swamps of Louisiana, on Saturday, July 26, at 1:15 p.m.

Marionettes take center stage when three generations of the Melchoir family, all women, present a puppet variety show Saturday, July 26, at 12:15 p.m. Other performances featuring stringed puppets are The Snowflake Man, about a pioneer of snowflake photography on Friday, July 25, 3:30 p.m., and a retelling of Rudyard Kipling's classic Jungle Book, on Saturday, July 26, 10:30 a.m.

For a mixture of puppet types--hand, stick, and strings--check out The Yellow Wallpaper and The Crane Maiden, stories exploring the relationship between society and nature on Sunday, July 27, at noon. Beauty and the Beast, Sunday at 11 a.m. (check here for location), marks the return of Dick Myers's one-of-a-kind puppets crafted forty years ago for the original staging of this classic story.

While performances are appropriate for all ages, Saturday's The Jungle Book and Melchior Marionettes are especially suited for children ages three to seven, accompanied by an adult.

And, in keeping with the weekend's theme, drop-in art-making workshops feature different types of puppets: Model Magic Pencil Puppets on Friday, July 25, 6 to 9 p.m.; Glove Finger Puppets, Saturday, July 26, noon to 4 p.m.; and Felt Snake and Spider Marionettes, Sunday, July 27, noon to 4 p.m. Click here for specifics.
Up-to-date information on times and locations are available on the DIA website. Puppet performances and art-making workshops are free with museum admission.
Motor City Puppet Blast is sponsored by the Detroit Puppetry Guild and the DIA.