Magpie magic at Puppet Palooza

On June 13, 2015, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times
Maggie Whalen’s Magpie puppets entertained at Puppet Palooza on June 1.

Maggie Whalen’s Magpie puppets entertained at Puppet Palooza on June 1.

By Amy Swain

As part of the third annual Somerville Puppet Palooza, Magpie Puppets appeared at Connexion on Monday, June 1.

Maggie Whalen is the founder and director of Magpie and has been performing puppet shows since 1969. Maggie performed several interactive children’s songs before the main event, Eeyore’s Birthday, a story based on A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories.

The beloved children’s story depicted the importance of friendship, and encouraged the audience to appreciate what they had in family and friends regarding their own birthday joy.

Another thing the show did was to celebrate diversity. In this performance, the character of Chris Robin was adapted into an African-American girl. Winnie the Pooh was also portrayed as female. Both are described as such in the event’s program.

In a correspondence with Maggie Whalen, she recalls her start as a puppeteer. She had modeled her original Christopher Robin after her own son, a blond boy. “I was soon tired of seeing nothing but blond, male, Caucasian characters in his picture books or when I took my son to see puppet shows. And, of course, girls never had the active roles.”

This is not the only way Maggie quashes prejudice through entertainment. Of her show The Emperor’s New Clothes, she reveals, “We wanted to show a multi-racial society but chose to make unreal skin tones, such as blue and lavender, since the Emperor in our version was clearly the villain and we didn’t want his character to be associated with a particular race.”

Magpie Puppets promotes fun and entertainment first and foremost. However, this show’s inherent message of equality is important for people of all ages.

More information on Magpie Puppets can be found at www.magpiepuppets.com.

The Puppet Palooza series continues June 16 with Puppet Showplace Theater. Full descriptions, times, and locations can be found at www.somervilleartscouncil.org.

 

 

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