While in Atlanta, we decided to pay a visit to Kermit and Miss Piggy and Bert and Ernie and a few other old friends. This was at the Center for Puppetry Arts, the largest puppetry center in the nation. It opened in 1978 when Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog cut the ribbon. It combines puppet performances, classrooms where puppetry and related arts are taught, and a puppetry museum. It’s a great place to find your inner puppet and let it speak.
The museum features some classic, recognizable puppets such as Punch and Judy, and the popular Turkish shadow puppets Karagoz and Hacivat (about whom we did a story in one of our performances).
There are specimens from all over the world, some of them quite old – including a couple of 600-year-old Native American dolls that are believed to have been used as puppets (there are holes at the shoulders where movable arms apparently were attached).
And as you might expect, there is a large collection honoring Jim Henson. There are many of the muppets used in his shows, as well as photographs, sketches and notes that went into designing them. And you learn how essential his wife Jane was to the whole process — which is something you don’t hear about much. There’s even a special exhibit for his breakthrough film Dark Crystal.
We caught a performance of Beauty and the Beast in one of the theatres, and it exceeded our expectations. It was performed with some very imaginative puppets fashioned from recycled objects that were assembled before our eyes – e.g., clothes that flew down off a clothesline and then joined forces with a mop for a head and an umbrella for a skirt.
We also went to a puppet-making workshop, where we made a couple of new friends who accompanied us and provided narration for the rest of the day. We not only found our inner puppets and let them speak, we let them take over.
Get your free puppet making kit
To celebrate our 50th episode, we’re sending out free puppet making kits to everyone who can tell us our puppet’s names. Just send your answer in a tweet to @ActivatedAdven1 with the hashtag #activatedPuppet.
Be sure to check out The Center for Puppetry Arts for more adventures with puppets.