Pontine Theatre to Present First Annual Portsmouth Puppet Festival, 6/14-15

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Pontine Theatre to Present First Annual Portsmouth Puppet Festival, 6/14-15

June 14 and 15, Pontine Theatre presents the first annual Portsmouth Puppetry Festival at the West End Studio Theatre. The schedule of events includes Soloman & Ashmedal by Peaks Island Puppets at 2pm on Saturday 14 June, Mano-a-Monolog by Andrew Periale at 7pm on Saturday 14 June, Jester Kings of Java by Figures of Speech's Ian Bannon at 2pm on Sunday 15 June, and The Magic Soup and Other Stories by Puppet Showplace Theatre's Resident Artist, Brad Shur, at 7pm on Sunday 15 June.

Tickets are $15 for a single ticket, or $50 for a festival pass which may be used for four admissions at any show. Purchase tickets in advance online at www.pontine.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door (cash and check only) based on availability. Pontine's West End Studio Theatre is located at 959 Islington Street in Portsmouth NH. Contact Pontine: info@pontine.org / 603-436-6660.

SOLOMAN & ASHMEDAL by Peaks Island Puppets (Peaks Island ME)
Saturday 14 June at 2pm. Appropriate for Audiences of all ages.
The half-hour show is followed by a 45-minute puppet-making workshop.

For every wise man there was once a fool in his shoes! After Solomon's Bar Mitzva, his father, King David sends him out to survive the hardships of the desert, to build character. There he meets an eagle who gives him a wondrous gold medallion along with some advice on qualities needed to become a good king.

But when Sol returns home, he forgets the eagle's sage advice, is too busy having fun, and is waylaid by a nasty, smelly little devil, Ashmedal, who snatches the medallion and drops it in the ocean. Solomon loses his power (and his clothes!) and is kicked out of the castle. He makes his way to the Kingdom of Urot, under King Cheney. He takes a job as a dishwasher. When the palace chef misses his shift, Sol bravely steps up to the plate to demonstrate his culinary skill. He is promoted to Royal Chef and thus catches the attention of Princess Leyla. Of course the king is irate, and of course they have to flee, and of course they wind up at a tavern where they order fish for dinner, and of course you know the rest! they eat that fish and inside its gut is the medallion! The devil is undone, Sol and Layla rule the land (wisely). Did I mention that smelly little devil goes back to the underworld to plan his next dirty trick!
the story is inspired by tales which sound familiar because they come from the Mishna, but are here retold, and recast, by David Handwerker, directed by Julie Goell. Its a show for families: kids get it on one level and adults enjoy it on another. The two puppeteers are comical and delightful story-tellers.

MANO-A-MONOLOG by Perry Alley Puppet Theatre's Andrew Periale (Strafford NH)
Saturday 14 June at 7pm. Appropriate for Adults and Teens.

There is a long tradition of speeches written in verse both in the theatre (from Sophocles to Shakespeare to Christopher Fry) and in literature (from Homer to Robert Browning to Anthony Hecht). Whether conceived to be performed as part of a play, or to be read from a book, the monolog is in the voice of one person with an implied audience. The speech reveals something about the speaker's character- often something nefarious or ironic that will end up touching either the heart or the funny bone.

Mano-a-Monolog is a new solo performance by Andrew Periale of the Emmy-nominated Perry Alley Theatre. It is a program of original vignettes written in verse and performed in Periale's twinned identities of actor and puppeteer. These pieces are by turns comic, thoughtful, eerie and poignant. They are intended for adult audiences but are appropriate for older teens.

Periale has been performing professionally for over thirty years and is the author of many plays and poems. The performance consists of fifteen pieces, some of which were originally speeches from stage productions, while others were written as poems.

Here's a selection:

The Disheartened Bonvivant: A young man of privilege finds that, despite his fine education and refined tastes, he is really not suited for any sort of work.

My Dear, I Think of You: In the spirit of Noel Coward, a middle-aged British widow feels truly alive at last!

The Interrogator: The most chilling thing about this man is the sympathetic, even cheerful way he goes about his work.

Kilim, Softly: A writer, sitting in a Turkish café, is inspired by the rhythms of the music playing in the background, when he re- alizes that his pencil has been flirting with the barrista!

Celestial Surprise: An older man, at a crossroads in his life, has a conversation with God-or is it a monolog?

I Must Start for Paris: Fed up with life in a small, New England town, a man decides to uproot and move to Paris. He tells his wife to pack her brushes and paints: they are departing for the land of "espadrilles and tiny underpants."

Seraphic Dialog: A couple purchases an angel from a monastic order that is forced to sell off its goods. The benefits the Seraph conveys are less tangible than the couple had hoped. It begins to favor the wife because of her growing faith. The husband, though practically an outsider in his own marriage, also comes to understand his place in the universe.

Soft-Shelled Crabs: An old woman looks back on her life and understands the role her mother's cooking played in it.

An Uncle's Advice: A man schools his young relatives in the value of travel and exhorts them to see the world "while you still look great without your clothes-while you still can touch your toes!"

JESTER KINGS OF JAVA by Figures of Speech (Freeport ME)
Sunday 15 June at 2pm. Appropriate for Audiences of All Ages.

American audiences are in for an exotic treat with Figures of Speech Theatre production of Jester Kings of Java. Gorgeous hand-crafted puppets made from gilded water buffalo hide portray the heroes, villains, and lovers from the ancient Ramayana, who dance across the eight-foot wide shadow screen to the mesmerizing sound of Indonesian gamelan music.

The story follows King Rama, who wants to marry Princess Sinta. But Sinta is in no mood for romance, because an evil giant has dog-napped her precious pup, Furri-Furri! All is in chaos, for there can be no harmony in the Kingdom when the King's heart is not at peace. To restore equilibrium and win Sinta's heart, Rama enlists the help of his overly chatty servant Gareng, Hanuman the White Monkey, a giant Garuda Bird, and even the heavenly lord Bathara Guru! Wild battles, strange adventures, and outrageous humor promise to entertain audiences of all ages.

Figures of Speech Theatre's Director of Education, Ian Bannon, assumes the traditional role of the dalang, or puppeteer, animating a wide array of characters on their whirlwind quest through this one- man show. The performance features museum-quality authentic Indonesian puppets generously donated by Mari Hook of Denmark, Maine, as well as a few surprising contemporary additions.

Figures of Speech Theatre was founded in 1982 to explore the interplay of puppets, actors, shadows, music, movement, and masks. The company has performed throughout Japan, North and South America and Europe with performances which are enjoyed equally by adults and young people. Figures of Speech Theatre is a four-time recipient of the coveted UNIMA Citation of Excellence, the "Oscar" of American puppet theatre.

THE MAGIC SOUP & OTHER STORIES by Puppet Showplace Theatre's Brad Shur (Brookline MA)
Sunday 15 June at 7pm. Appropriate for Audiences of All Ages.

What do you do when your relatives are coming over for dinner, but there's no food in sight? A young man's search for a family recipe ends up bringing folk tales to life...in his kitchen. Based on a collection of traditional Yiddish stories, "The Magic Soup" teaches that it is those with wit, humor and imagination who have the best chance of filling their bellies -- and fulfilling their dreams.

Brad Shur is a versatile puppeteer who has created and performed characters made of everything from pixels to papier mache. As the Resident Artist at Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline, MA, Brad performs regularly for youth and family audiences and teaches puppetry classes to students of all ages. Brad opened "The Magic Soup and Other Stories," in December 2011; since then, the show has been featured at the Puppeteers of America National Festival and has been seen by audiences across the Northeast. Shur's other original full-length works include "The Carrot Salesman," "Dr. Doohickey and the Monster Machine," "The Yankee Peddler: Stories and Songs from Old New England" and "Robin Hood." Prior to becoming the Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace, Brad toured the country as a performer with Big Nazo (Rhode Island), Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee) and The PuppeTree (Vermont). As a builder Brad has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, Avenue Q, Underground Railway Theatre, and the U.S.S. Constitution Museum. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

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