Mike Smith Puppetry Journal Review_5
The Fourth Annual Black Sheep Puppet Festival
Pittsburgh PA, October 4-20, 2002

Puppetry Review and Critical Proclamation:

published in and courtesy of:
The Puppetry Journal (ISSN.0033-443X)
The Puppeteers of America Inc.
4923-37th Ave. S Minneapolis, MN 55417
Vol. xx - No. x - Fall 2002
pages xx-xx
Review written by Mike Smith, www.encroach.net (home)

Chicago puppetry: Summer 2002

1. A wonderful puppetry festival based on American folklore was produced at the John K. Garvey elementary school by Chrissy Gray=Rodriguez and her students. Ms. Gray earned a grant from the Department of Education to produce a puppet festival with a theme of American myth and folklore. Students from different classes participated in and contributed to making puppets, costumes and props during their art classes with Ms. Gray and also on their free-time. The festivalıs main show was the eighth graderıs production of their own version of the Paul Bunyan myth. The Garvey students rendition included Paul and Babe being convinced to plant and save trees due to the pleas of an angry beaver and ³tree-hugging hippie protesters². Paul was over ten feet tall, and was operated by three students, holding hands, body and head. Babe was a very large ox operated by four students within the body. The festival was a great success.

2. The same above-mentioned Chrissy Gray-Rodriguez implemented a large scale puppetry program during the summer at Chicagoıs Gallery 37. Gallery 37 is a program run by the city to foster arts among children. She led a group of students in making a twenty foot long fish which will be used in this yearıs City of Chicago Halloween Parade. The armature and body stylings were made of pvc and wood, with a skin of lightweight, painted canvas. Gallery 37 provides teachers and artists in Chiago great, paid opportunities to teach their craft, and it is great to see a strong puppetry presence.

3. BuskerFest-Chicago was an interactive free family event featuring buskers - or street performers - from around the world. The festival is dedicated to the craft, magic and madness of street performance, and was a an opportunity for puppeteers like Frankie Cordero to legally take puppetry to the streets in the pursuit of getting the city walkers donate some money. Frankie Cordero is a one man walking booth, with a puppet named Sammy the Squirrel that can really dance. His wears can be seen at www.funtownentertainment.com. For next yearıs festival, puppeteers are invited and encouraged to contact Jim Ellis at: jellis1111@earthlink.net.

4. NASCAR came to Chicago motor speedway for 95,000 screaming fans, who all got to see Environmental Encroachmentıs large scale puppet of a race car driver (rumored to be Dale Earnhardt). The puppet joined a costumed and masked marching band through the masses of people in the commercialist swamps. It was another new frontier for puppetry to ³break into². The crowd really was charged by the presence of this large puppet. The body was supported on a backpack, along with a paper mache head. The arms were controlled by an interior rigging system of rope, poles and conduit. The entire puppet breaks down into smaller parts, is easy to assemble and transport, and is light-weight. Keep parading with puppets.

Mike Smith


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