At a time when our kids are bombarded with handheld video games, the wii and TV shows about tweens wearing heavy makeup, it’s nice to have the opportunity to expose them to the ancient art of puppetry. A show with marionettes, old-style music and no blasting techno music and spinning lights that overstimulate the senses. Just a simple story that is both wholesome and engaging at the same time.
I recently attended a puppet show from Puppetworks called The Reluctant Dragon. Upon entering the room I noticed dozens of marionettes hanging on the wall. I was able to recognize puppets from popular stories such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella. The room itself is filled with benches and has mats in the center for younger kids.
The Reluctant Dragon is based on the 1898 English fantasy by Kenneth Grahame, who also wrote The Wind in the Willows. It was adapted for marionettes and directed by Michael Leach.
The show began with one of the puppeteers who came on stage and explained, in an engaging way, what are some of the marionettes on the wall, what is a marionette, etc.
The story is about an Eight-year-old girl seeking to prove to her father and to the people in her town that she is all grown up. With the help of her friend, a gryphon who poses as a dragon, she succeeds in showing that appearances can often be deceiving.
The Puppetworks website suggests an age of three and above for attending the show and rightfully so; there was a scene that was a little scary and most of the kids that were sitting on the mats ran to sit with their parents (mine included), although they did return to the mats a couple of minutes later.
At the end of the show the puppeteer came out on stage again with one of the marionettes to show the kids how it works. The kids surrounded her immediately and got a chance to get their picture taken with the puppet, touch it and ask questions about puppeteering.
The Reluctant Dragon plays until December 18th on Saturdays & Sundays at 12:30pm and 2:30pm. Admission is $7 per child; $8 per adult, cash only.
388 6th Avenue
(at 4th street)
Brooklyn, NY 11215