We all know Detroit is full of quirky, off the beaten path spaces that hold treasures and delights. This month, we hit on a big one, right in downtown. On our search for the unexpected, we found ourselves at PuppetART. This theater, museum and studio is all about one of the world’s oldest forms of performance art–puppets. For those of us who only know puppetry as the Muppets, a visit to PuppetART is a great way for kids and adults to learn about of the artistry that makes up this craft.
We stepped into the magical world of PuppetART for the premiere of its current show, Mouk’s Adventures. The performance runs through the end of April and again in July. The story follows Mouk, a young boy on a journey to find happiness. On his travels, Mouk discovers that magical powers help, but smarts and friendship are also important.
Mouk’s Adventures is an original play adapted from Wilhelm Hauff’s fairy tale, The History of Little Mouk and carefully reflects some of Arabic culture. Artists consulted Dearborn’s Arab American National Museum to make sure the music, clothing and set details were just right. The play was created as part of PuppetART’s commitment to reflecting the diversity of cultures in Detroit. According to Founder Igor Gozman, it is important to the artistic team that the stories draw from all ethnic backgrounds in our area. Future plays will bring in folktales from China, Mexico and eastern Europe.
PuppetART believes that puppetry is a sophisticated, performance art form that goes beyond simple entertainment for kids. When the founders decided to open their storefront downtown in 1998, they were sure to do more than open a theater. Included in the space is a museum for puppets to live on after shows end and a studio for kids and adults to learn the art. The result is a 70-seat theater for the shows, a museum filled with amazing puppets created over the years and a workspace for kids and adults to learn the ins and outs of bringing a show to life.
PuppetART hosts workshops immediately following most shows where kids can make their own puppets. The artists also go to schools, teaching classes on the how to create a play from start to finish. Students learn what it takes to create a play including writing a script, making the puppets and building the sets. Teachers can also come to PuppetART for workshops on how to use puppets and storytelling in the classroom in order to bring any subject to life.
Performances run every Saturday at 2:00 p.m., every Thursday at 10:00 a.m. and the last Sunday of every month at 2:00 p.m. Admission fees are $10/adult and $5/children. The museum is open, and free of charge, Tuesdays through Fridays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Workshops following the performances are $8/person. Private group tours and workshops are also available. Shows do sell out so be sure to make your reservation in advance by calling 313-961-7777.
PuppetART 25 East Grand River Avenue Detroit, MI 48226 313-961-7777