The legacy of Muppets icon Jim Henson, echoed by his daughter, Heather, will resonate in Handmade Puppet Dreams at 8 p.m. Friday at Owl Glass Puppetry Center, 319 N. Calhoun, West Liberty. Tickets are $6.
The event, not for children and recommended for teens and above, is a 90-minute series of more than a dozen short films featuring puppets. Although not entirely along the lines of the rough, raw and popular “Avenue Q” or “Crank Yankers” the flicks are geared towards an adult audience and feature mature themes.
“Puppets are not only for kids,” said Monica Leo of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theater Co., which is presenting the event. “This is really just becoming popular (in the United States) with the success of shows like ‘Avenue Q,’ but it’s been going on for a while here and worldwide. Around the world, for a long time, there have been shows for all ages with puppets. Some have adult themes and some are more for kids. I think people mostly think of puppets as a children’s thing here in the U.S. because of shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rogers’ but, really, you can tell any story with puppets. It’s very liberating and a different art form.”
The internationally submitted films of Handmade Puppet Dreams being shown this weekend are the sixth such volume of shorts, the third to be presented at Owl Glass Puppetry Center. Collected and curated by Heather Henson, the films are created by artists worldwide and collected into a touring presentation. Since its inception in 2005, Handmade Puppet Dreams has traveled across the U.S. as well as to France, the UK, the Czech Republic, India, Israel and various other ports around the world.
“It’s been very well received here when it’s visited,” Leo said. “We’ve gotten great audience response to it.”
In addition to Handmade Puppet Dreams, the films will be preceded by a Puppet Slam, the felt and plastic version of a poetry slam.
“It’s the same basic idea, only featuring puppets,” Leo said. “It allows people to be creative with their puppetry in a different form and it offers people the opportunity to present their own works. It’s great. We have puppet slams regularly and they’re always really popular. Our last one was in September at our puppeteering festival and people loved it. We asked all the puppeteers coming to that event to come a day early and bring something short for the puppet slam and people really loved seeing it.”
Leo has been involved in puppetry for 18 years and has seen an increase in its popularity, to which she ascribes a number of factors, including people’s changing entertainment tastes and more open attitudes to alternative forms of entertainment.
“It’s great to see because this really is a wonderful artform,” she said. “We hope people come out to the show this weekend, and our other shows, and enjoy them. We’ll see some entertaining films, there will be snacks afterwards, and it’ll be a lot of fun.”