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Nov. 7, 2013
By Kari Sierks, media relations assistant
Theatre Northwest will present P.I. Tchaikovsky’s classic “The Nutcracker” as a puppet show during three weekends in November and December.
Based on “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” written by E.T.A. Hoffman, “The Nutcracker” follows a young girl’s dream of a nutcracker prince and fierce battle against a mouse king. “The Nutcracker Ballet” was first presented in Russia on Dec. 17, 1892.
The entire production at Northwest is presented with large-scale puppets and shadow puppets. Each puppet is designed and constructed primarily from recycled and repurposed materials. Some of the materials include newspapers, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, plastic shopping bags, candy wrappers and used clothing.
Theatre Northwest chose puppetry for the production as a way of challenging students to build a machine that becomes a vehicle for human expression. By transforming the puppets into living objects, students are challenged to find ways to make the puppet do what they want it to do, said Amanda Petefish-Schrag, Northwest assistant professor of fine and performing arts and the director of “The Nutcracker.”
“We’re always striving to provide opportunities for students to explore the theatre process, and puppetry offers a unique opportunity to take a holistic approach to the theatre process,” Petefish-Schrag said. “In working as puppeteers, students design and build the characters they will use in performance. This requires a great deal of critical thought.
“We want to provide students opportunities to tell old stories in new ways. Puppetry provides a vehicle to actively engage an audience with a traditional holiday story in a new way.”
Petefish-Schrag introduced puppetry to Northwest students during a unique course offered during the summer of 2011, and has continued to incorporate puppetry and repurposed materials in her instruction.
As a youth, Petefish-Schrag performed as a puppeteer in her family’s puppet theatre troupe and taught a puppetry course at another institution. She introduced her course at Northwest after several students expressed interest in learning more about puppetry.
Faculty and student designers and writers started working on the puppet designs and scripts for “The Nutcracker” in May.
Helen Strotman, a senior theatre and English major from Lincoln, Neb., designed several puppets and helped build several others. She is a puppeteer in the production, playing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
“I’m looking forward to the different styles of this production,” Strotman said. “So many people think of puppets as just hand puppets or finger puppets, and what we’ve done is blend different styles of puppetry and performance to devise something really unique.”
Eli Purdom, a senior theatre performance major from Kansas City is playing the role of the Mouse King. He is excited to see the public’s reaction toward the puppets.
“After working on the puppets for the past several weeks and months, I know that we are all eager to perform and show off the amazing, quirky and funny works of art that have taken time and care from all of those involved,” Purdom said. “It is a bit of a twist on the classic story, and I’m sure the audience will be surprised but pleased with what we give them.”
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14-16, Nov. 21-23 and Dec. 5-7. Sunday matinee performances are 2 p.m. Nov. 17, Nov. 24 and Dec. 8. All performances will be in the Studio Theater at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.
Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the Student Services Center on the first floor of the Administration Building or at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Half-price tickets are available to groups of 12 or more by calling 660.562.1321 at least one week prior to the show.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468