Puppetry festival explores ‘Roots and Wings’
“Migraciones/Migrations” by Paradox Teatro.

Puppetry festival explores ‘Roots and Wings’

Puppets in the Green Mountains festival converges with the 40th anniversary of Sandglass Theater

PUTNEY — Sandglass Theater will present its 11th Puppets in the Green Mountains (PGM) festival - an every-other-year international 10-day puppet festival with shows for kids, adults, and families, as well as workshops and forums about arts, culture, and social causes - from Sept. 9 to 18 at various venues in Brattleboro and Putney.

Over the last 25 years, the festival has grown substantially. This year's festival will feature performances by local as well as international artists from various countries, including Germany, Mexico, Jordan, and th Czech Republic.

“The 2022 edition of PGM embraces its role as a meeting ground, an educational platform, a space for discussion, and a celebration of puppet theater,” Shoshana Bass, co-artistic director of Sandglass Theater, said in a news release.

The theme for this year's festival is “Roots and Wings,” to celebrate the thriving art of puppet theater as a means of enhancing perspective, generating compassion, and celebrating the human spirit.

The festival theme derives from a famous quote, attributed to a number of writers, including poet Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe: “There are two things that parents should give their children: roots and wings. Roots to give them bearing and a sense of belonging, but also wings to help free them from constraints and prejudices and give them other ways to travel (or rather, to fly).”

As the theater “looks forward to the next generation of artists, community leaders, and citizens,” those words take on what Bass calls “a contemporary urgency.”

“With one foot in the knowledge of who we are and where we have come from and the other in the creative possibilities of the imagination, 'Roots and Wings' inspires us to make informed, positive choices and be active citizens in our world today,” she said.

Sandglass turns 40

This year, Sandglass Theater is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a force for creating innovative theater and community building.

Since 1982, the company has dedicated itself to the arts of theater and puppetry, presenting diverse theater artists and producing events that serve the community.

Eric Bass, who co-founded Sandglass with his wife, Ines Bass, reminisced about the origin of Sandglass Theater 40 years ago.

“In 1982, Sandglass Theater was just two people starting a relationship, building a puppet theater production, and looking for a name,” he said.

Bass said the Sandglass Theater name “encompassed several aspects of who we were and who we became.” The name is a portmanteau of the English and German words for the same object: “sanduhr” and “hourglass.” It represents “our sense of history, our sense of fragility, our sense of continuity,” he said.

Bass called the festival “a celebration of the art form that has sustained us all this time, and of the community that has embraced us, nurtured us, and expanded our relationships. This is an opportunity for us to thank you.”

The Basses found that Sandglass's first production, Sand, “came to define what we would become: a company dedicated to evocative images, and to full engagement with the life of puppets and where they led us.”

Ines Bass remembers the move into a studio space in Munich, Germany, the birthplace of Sandglass Theater.

“The place had been the workshop of a tailor, and we inherited many yards of his woolen, black fabric,” she said of the material that accompanied them on tours around the globe and that “followed us to America like a faithful and dedicated actor.”

Ines Bass thinks of that fabric - now safely preserved - “as something whose thread symbolically wove itself into the fabric of our life's work,” she said. “It is older, faded a bit here and there, has taken on the smell of many places but still makes a strong statement as a persistent and important player. I believe it will last for quite a while longer.”

“As for our puppet festivals, I think of them in a similar way,” Ines Bass continued. “They are a repeating pattern in the metaphoric weaving of our history. They have connected the wider world with our community and created a beautiful and colorful tapestry.”

What to expect

Working closely with regional leaders, Sandglass Theater's artists and directors will present a program that goes beyond the stage with the aim to foster meaningful conversations around the performances and the themes they address.

• Krystal Puppeteers from Kenya will weave a tale filled with music, dance, and memorable characters about the dramatic roots of a river's name and how it influences its modern day inhabitants in Tears by the River.

• Lone Wolf Tribe, a multidisciplinary performance company based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and helmed by founding artistic director Kevin Augustine, will present his solo show, Body Concert, involving large body parts animated to rigorous choreography inspired by Japanese Butoh dance.

• Theater Waidspeicher from Germany, which produced an interpretation of Romeo and Juliet at the 2015 festival, will present a poignant tale about loss of home and fleeing from war in When My Father Became a Bush.

• Dafa Puppet Theater (Jordan/Czech Republic) will offer a story about exile and dreams in War Maker.

Migraciones/Migrations (Mexico/United States) by Paradox Teatro follows a photojournalist's visual journey to learn the story of refugees migrating across sand, water, and shadows. It will be performed in English and Spanish.

• In Judy Saves the Day, Sarah Nolen of Boston will offer a modern interpretation of the traditional Punch-and-Judy show in what the theater describes as “a hilarious, timely, hand-crafted farce that the whole family will enjoy.”

• Sandglass Theater's newest work, Flushing, is a collaboration with award-winning playwright Linda Parris-Bailey about race, legacy, identity, and the process of making room for someone else.

Also part of the festival will be community-wide public forums, “Access Through the Arts,” which will underscore what the theater describes as “the powerful importance of the role of the arts in addressing and inspiring personal engagement with national and international conversations.”

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates