If you have yet to visit the Walker Art Center on a Free First Saturday, I’ve got to tell you, you’re missing out. Totally free. Totally fun. Totally for families. What could I possibly say to motivate you towards attending one? Maybe, puppets. Did you catch that?
“ Behind the Scenes” was the Free First Saturday theme for October 1. I was around anyway to volunteer, so I dropped in on some of the activities going on at the Walker.
I saw a performance of One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes, an interpretation of the Grimm Brothers fairytale. A Walker crew of puppeteers headed up by our own Dawn Swartz– and backed up by a trio of local musicians–put on a show full of magic and monsters. This re-interpretation set our story in Cleveland (Minnesota) and there was even a reference to “ hotdish.” Now, I’m not a Minnesota native and I had to be introduced to the concept of hotdish. But sitting in the auditorium, I heard the hotdish reference and there was a ripple of laughter that ran through the audience, and I thought: I get it. I get the joke! Dawn and crew even gave a demo afterwards and talked about the different sorts of puppets they used, including marionettes, body and hand puppets, and stick puppets.
I popped into the Star Tribune Foundation Art Lab and saw crowds of families making their very own stick puppets and putting on performances in ready-made box stages. Walking around the galleries later, I could see kids marching on with little arms raised in the air, proudly displaying their puppets.
I missed the puppet films (for which I felt a large measure of guilt), but I popped in to a WAC-ky Tales reading of Shrinking Violet by Cari Best. Our very own Aaron Szopinski entertained the room with his lively reading about a girl named Violet whose role in the school play changes her from a shy girl into a hero.
I bet now you’re wishing you had been at Free First Saturday. November 5 is your next big chance. Come on out for Random Ruckus and enjoy tours, films, art-making, performance, and story time activities related to the exhibition House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective opening October 16.