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Puppets take Atlanta and Gainesville by storm
July festival at Georgia Tech brings together true masters from around the world
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Puppets Take Atlanta and Beyond

Family-friendly performances

"The Box? A Show of Feelings"
Performer: Coad Canada Puppets of North Vancouver, Canada
When: Now through Saturday
Where: Roswell Cultural Arts Center

Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop
Performer:
Los Angeles-based Mallory Lewis
When: Saturday, Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta; Sunday, Pearce Auditorium, Gainesville

El Hombre Ciguena (The Stork Man)
Performer: Los Titiriteros de Binefar of Binefar, Spain
When: July 18
Where: Fulton County Arts Council's Southwest Arts Center

The Little Pirate Mermaid
Performer: Jon Ludwig of the Center for Puppetry Arts
When: July 18
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta

La Muela del Rey Farfan (The Toothache of King Farfan)
Performer: Teatro SEA of New York and Puerto Rico
When: July 21-26
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts

Adult Performances

Nosferatu (Dracula)
Performer: Bob Theatre, Rennes, France
When: Friday-Sunday
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts

Poli Degaine (The World's Best Punch and Judy Show)
Performer: Compagnie La Pendue, Herbeys, France
When: July 24-26
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts

There is also a film screening, artist-led workshops and special workshops just for kids.

July is a big month for puppets around here.

In conjunction with the National Puppetry Festival Tuesday through July 19 at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, the Center for Puppetry Arts has orchestrated a month of puppet shows, films and workshops dedicated to the art of puppets.

Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop, performing Sunday at Pearce Auditorium in Gainesville, is one of many Atlanta-area events taking advantage of the wealth of puppetry knowledge coming into the area for the convention — although the Gainesville performance is the only one outside the metro Atlanta area.

“We have international artists coming from France, Spain, Canada, all over the U.S., Puerto Rico,” said Daniel Summers Jr., marketing director for the center. “All these wonderful organizations have said, ‘You’re already coming into town, can you perform here?’”

Puppets Take Atlanta and Beyond, the official name for the July event, is also a springboard for these artists to then take their performances to other Southern cities, spreading the joy of puppetry.

But this month’s festival is only a preview of greater things to come at the Center for Puppetry Arts.

The Atlanta museum is the largest nonprofit in the country dedicated to puppetry, Summers said, and has had a very close relationship with the Jim Henson family.

Because of the museum’s prominence in the puppet world, Summers said, the Henson family is making plans to add hundreds of original Henson pieces to the collection there, adding another wing in the process.

The tentative date for this expansion is 2012, depending on the economy. The current exhibit “Jim Henson: Wonders from His Workshop” is like a preview of what’s to come.

“(The Henson family) said, we know you’re doing an expansion project ... What would it be if we had a wing there? What would it take? And that’s what we’re in the process of figuring out,” he said. “We were already going to expand; what’s a little bit more expansion with 500 to 700 original Henson artifacts?

“We will be the only place in the world that will have original Henson family artifacts, so everything you’re seeing will be a preview and it will be at least twice the size. So, it’s huge.”

In the meantime, the center will also start a series of speakers who have been working in the puppetry field for decades, specifically with Jim Henson. Because of its location in Atlanta, Summers said they can take advantage of master puppeteers who are flying through the city, on their way to another gig, to stop by and give
a presentation.

It’s this sense of collaboration that helped bring the Puppets Take Atlanta and Beyond event together, too, Summers said, and is simply indicative of the art of puppetry.

“To have all these organizations working together, everybody coming together to make it all happen, it’s what puppetry is about.”

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