Free summer theater series to bring giant puppets to town, have residents participate

If you ever dreamed of being in the circus, now's your chance. The free summer series of performances from the newly rebranded Detroit Puppet Company, formerly Carrie Morris Arts Production culminates with a chance for residents to participate in a circus show in September.

The four-month theatrical series will finish with a massive, larger-than-life community participation piece, entitled "Our Domestic Resurrection Circus", from the internationally-acclaimed Bread and Puppet Theater. Residents interested in being part of the circus will need to attend an afternoon rehearsal on Sept. 21 and are required to email hello@detroitpuppetcompany.com for more information and to reserve their space.

"Mwindo". Photo: Echo Media.

The Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit kicked off the summer series last month, with "Mwindo", a lively play by Cheryl L. West, based on a Central African folktale. This month two local theater troupes take the stage with their newest performances. The first is "The Adventures of Kitty Montellier" by Flying Cardboard Theater, on July 23 and 24, featuring puppeteers Jason Hicks, Lindsay McCaw, and Oliver Pookrum. The hand-and-rod puppet show illustrates a quirky artistic kid named Dimitri, who adventures around Detroit to find his feisty cat.

The series also includes a unique curation of puppet films, all staged on the company's newly-designed, handicap-accessible Community Commons space, located at 2221 Carpenter Ave., Detroit.

"Anomalisa" will be showcased during the puppet film series. Photo: Supplied.

“I am so excited to kick off the summer in our newly improved outdoor space with this wonderful roster of works by local and national puppet artists," says Carrie Morris, Executive Director of Detroit Puppet Company. "Being able to gather and watch puppet shows together, in a beautiful, accessible, and welcoming space – this is what it is all about.”

In August, the Detroit Puppet Company, along with local cross-cultural cinema nonprofit Cinema Lamont, will co-present the month-long film series, running every Friday evening outside at the Community Commons. The film series will also have two Saturday matinee screenings, at the Detroit Institute of Art’s Detroit Film Theatre. The series promises to be an eclectic mix of both rare as well as mainstream films that utilize the art of puppetry – with a wide range, from Jan Svankmajer’s infamous feature-film fable of temptation, "Faust" (1994), to Kihachiro Kawamoto’s short-film of a ghastly demon in the woods, "The Demon" (1972). 

“The lineup we've put together showcases the history and diversity of puppetry in motion picture storytelling, from the oldest surviving animated film – 1926's "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" – to Robin Frohardt's blistering reflection on mass consumption, "The Plastic Bag Store"," says founder and president of Cinema Lamont, Josh Gardner.

Schedule:

● Saturday & Sunday, July 23 & 24, at 2 p.m. – Performance – The Adventures
of Kitty Montellier (by Flying Cardboard Theater)
● Friday, August 5, at 8:45 p.m. – Puppet Films – Plastic Bag Store (2020),
Fitzcardboardaldo (2013), The Corrugation of Dreams (2013)
● Friday, August 12, at 8:45 p.m. – Puppet Films – Anomalisa (2015)
● Saturday, August 13, at 2 p.m. – Puppet Films – The Adventures of Prince
Achmed (1926) – Venue: Detroit Film Theatre, 5200 John R St, Detroit
● Friday, August 19, at 8:45 p.m. – Puppet Films – Faust (1994)
● Friday, August 26, at 8:45 p.m. – Puppet Films – Evening of Puppet ‘Shorts’
● Saturday, August 27, at 2 p.m. – Puppet Films – The Great Zodiac Animal
Race (2021) – Venue: Detroit Film Theatre, 5200 John R St, Detroit
● Thursday, September 22, at 7:00 p.m. – Performance – Our Domestic
Resurrection Circus (by Bread and Puppet Theater)

"The Adventures of Prince Achmed" is a film by Lotte Reiniger.