Purple Rock Productions presents
Puppet Panorama
A great variety of world cultures have traditions of puppetry. Some of these folk traditions are explored as we take an imaginary journey, oversea, land and air, to discover puppets of other lands. Live music accompanies the action and songs.

The show begins on top of the world (a map), where Mr. Punch has trouble setting up a flag. Mr. Punch is an impish glove puppet character known throughout the world, but with roots in the British Isles.

We next take a slow boat to China, to witness the first shadow play ever given, over 2,000 years ago. WuTi was an Emperor of the Han Dynasty, and very powerful. Legend has it that when WuTi's only true friend, the Lady Chang, died, he was inconsolable. So much did he want to see his friend again that he offered a great treasure to anyone who could bring her back to him. Finally, a magician is able to show him Lady Chang's image behind a screen, and WuTi is consoled.

Our next adventure takes us on "wings of fancy" to the Czech lands, where we discover the Czech-style marionette, a carved figure controled by a rod and strings from above. Ancient folktales about vodniks abound throughout eastern Europe, and some of these are shared in the story of The Vodnik and the Rusalka. A Vodnik is a water sprite, similar to the Irish Merrow. Vodnici are tricksters and soul-stealers. A Rusalka is a type of siren that causes people to drown. In this tale, the Vodnik traps a young maiden, turns her into a Rusalka so that she may lure others to his den. The Rusalka is able to escape from the Vodnik with the help of a friendly and mischievious fish.

The final tale is told from the point of view of Katie, a New England lady whose seen over two hundred years of history. Her memories are sewn into her dress: she has a piece of the original flag of the 13 colonies, a handkerchief of Francis Scott Key, and other bits of history.

At the very end of the show, volunteers from the audience are invited to learn to manipulate a simple puppet. Adults and children have both enjoyed this part of the program, and many have gone home and built their own puppets. This production has been performed in schools, libraries, festivals and special events with great success. It dovetails well with certain language arts and social studies curriculum standards.