Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Puppet People at LARAC

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

Puppetry combines elements of problem solving and creativity. It can also segue children from watching television to seeing a live performance. According to Puppet People co-founder, Mark Carrigan, puppetry can spark the imagination where watching television can not.

“I got into puppetry as a small child. I remember watching a puppet show when I was in third grade, running home and making my own puppets,” says Carrigan. “After receiving a degree in sculpture, I worked with Bennington Marionettes sculpting the marionettes’ faces. I met my wife there.”

He and his wife Michelle are the sole owners and employees of Puppet People. They create, design and build all their puppets and shows. Sometimes each puppet can take up to a month to complete. Each show is distinct and the puppets are not reused for various performances.

This Saturday at the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council’s (LARAC) Lapham Place Gallery in Glens Falls, children and adults will have an opportunity to participate in a puppet-making workshop as well as see a performance.

“I now want to share with kids how we make things,” says Carrigan. “The challenge is kids are programmed now after watching a show to just want their parents to buy them something. I tell them to go to the library and find out how to make something. I find that to be very important. After seeing a puppet show, kids discover its something they can do themselves. They can build and create and even put on their own show.”

It will also get children away from watching TV or videos. Carrigan remembers watching TV as a child but using imaginative play much more than children do currently. When his wife, a trained actor, as a child used to put on neighborhood shows. Carrigan wants children to be creative. He can’t stress enough the importance of teaching children to problem solve and role-play for strengthening social skills. He believes it can all start with puppets.

“I think seeing a puppet show is the first step to seeing live theatre,” say Carrigan. “There are a lot of different puppet companies so children gain that live experience through puppets first. I find children to be fascinated by its similarity to TV. Since it’s live performance, it also sparks their (the children’s) imagination.”

So there is not only the aspect of a fun afternoon there are even educational elements involved as well. LARAC is sponsoring the one day workshop along with funding provided by Stewarts Shops. The Saturday performance is $10 for adults and $5.00 for children. The 11:30 a.m. workshop is a separate fee of $12 with each participant leaving with his or her own rod puppet.

This 50-minute production is inspired by the classic Russian folk tale and ballet, The Firebird. The mythical bird comes to life and with the help of Ivan and Princess Yelena attempts to break the enchantment of the evil sorcerer. The Firebird focuses on the story’s elements of friendship, teamwork, responsibility and courage. Different types of puppets are incorporated into each show and is appropriate for grades K-6. The Firebird uses rod puppets, marionettes and body puppets.

Jenny Hutchinson, LARAC Gallery program coordinator says, “We haven’t had this workshop since 2006 so we are excited to bring the Puppet People back. For the workshop we will have about 20 people so a lot of individual attention can be given. As a nonprofit organization LARAC is proud to continue to enrich the quality of life for Warren, Saratoga and Washington counties”

Registration is requested for both the workshop and production as space is limited. Please call Ms. Hutchinson at 798-1144, ext. 2 for more information.

Photo used with permission from The Puppet People.


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 

Related Stories


Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.




Comments are closed.