Bees, puppets part of SYRUP Performing Arts Festival

  • Sandglass puppeteer Jana Zeller and one of her puppets from "Punschi," which will be part of this year's SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival in Shelburne Falls. Contributed photo—

  • Sandglass puppeteer Jana Zeller and puppets from "Punschi," which will be part of this year's SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival in Shelburne Falls. Contributed photo—

Recorder Staff
Saturday, February 24, 2018

SHELBURNE FALLS – The award-winning Sandglass Theater of Putney, Vt., will join Piti Theatre Co.’s ninth annual “SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival” on March 11 in the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center, 53 Main St.

The daylong event begins with a Pancake Party of plain and blueberry pancakes served by Piti Youth Troupe performers with magic tricks and skits on the side, between 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

At 2:30 p.m. Piti Theatre presents “To Bee or Not to Bee,” an interactive theater production with live music, puppetry and dance for family audiences, featuring local children. The play raises awareness about the plight of bees and other pollinators, given climate change and other environmental factors, while giving info on helping bees thrive in local communities. “To Bee or Not to Bee” tells the story of a farmer and beekeeper with puppets and audience participation. The show’s French version has been seen since 2012 in Switzerland, and several New England towns have leveraged the performance to create a “Bee Week” filled with pollinator support suggestions.

The musical features music by Piti musician-in-residence Carrie Ferguson, and the festival will also have a release party for Ferguson’s debut album of songs from Piti Theatre musicals. Ferguson and the Youth Troupe will perform songs during the pancake brunch.

At 3:45 p.m., Sandglass puppeteer Jana Zeller will present a collection of compelling short puppet stories in “Punschi,” featuring hand puppets and ukuleles. “Punschi” comes out of a European tradition of imaginative puppetry and entertainment. Sandglass Theater has at least a dozen awards from American and international agencies, including the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Zeller is an international touring artist, and after the performance, she’ll offer a puppet-making workshop for ages 6 and up. Each participant will invent a character and create a tape guy puppet, made from recycled materials and easily replicated at home, for any child who wants to make a whole cast. Each puppet is attached to a chopstick and can be performed in a shoe box theater. The puppet-making starts at 4:45.

Tickets are $12 per adult and $10 for students or seniors; $5 for children up to age 12. One ticket provides access to each show. For the puppet-making workshop ($7), reserve your place in advance at: info@ptco.org.

Tickets can be bought at ptco.org/syrup or by calling 1-800-838-3006. This event is supported in part by grants from the Buckland, Conway, Shelburne, Plainfield and Rowe Cultural Councils, which are part of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. It’s also supported by the Franklin Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association.