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Kids and puppets go hand in hand this summer

The whole family can get in on the act in summer workshops that teach the art of puppetry.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


TARPON SPRINGS -- The Frog Prince Puppetry Arts Center & Theatre will be as busy as a pond after a good summer rainshower all this summer, according to the schedule of events planned by center owner Norma Bigler.

Mrs. Bigler has planned six weeks of camps -- one at the start for beginners ages 8 to 12 and those who want to brush up their skills, one at the end for families, and four solid weeks in between for advanced students of the art of puppetry.

"Most kids do the whole thing," Mrs. Bigler said. That includes daily three-hour sessions from July 10 through Aug. 11 during the week and three evenings in August working with their families on puppet projects.

It also includes three public performances to show off what they have learned.

"They are going to make the masks for Macbeth and a ghost for Hamlet's father," Mrs. Bigler said.

To start the summer, professional puppeteer Ron Brown will give a show Sunday. (See accompanying story.) To end the summer, guest artist Katie Adams will present her new, award-winning show, Anansi and the Tree of Life, at 2 p.m. Aug. 27. Ms. Adams' play features a collection of African tales told with puppets and includes audience participation in an animated set.

The Frog Prince has been in Tarpon Springs for 13 years. It started out at the city's Cultural Center, but it has had its own studio in the Arcade on N Pinellas Avenue for the past 12 years.It can seat up to 55 people, Mrs. Bigler said. The center has an extensive library and examples of puppets from around the world. "We are so fortunate to have the Frog Prince . . . here in Tarpon Springs," said Kathleen Monahan, administrator of community affairs. "The cultural enrichment it provides the young at heart of all ages enhances the quality of life in our community."

Mrs. Bigler earned a master's degree in puppetry art at the University of Connecticut, the first woman to have earned the unusual degree. She recently returned from England, where she attended a performance of a Shakespeare play at the newly rebuilt Globe Theatre in London.

SUMMER CAMPS ARE:

July 10-14, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Note shorter hours for this camp only.) Beginners 8 to 12 years old will learn creative dramatics and puppetmaking. There will be an informal program at 1:30 p.m. the last day. Fee is $17, including all materials.

July 17-21, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., ages 8-16. Advanced acting, script-writing and play production, plus public performance July 23. Fee is $15.

July 24-28, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Students will design and make one or two scarf puppets and prepare a new show. This session includes a rehearsal on Aug. 5 for the Aug. 6 public performance. Fee is $17, which includes all materials except the scarf.

July 31-Aug. 4, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Students will continue to work on the scarf puppets and begin the Shakespeare project, which will include making masks and puppets. Fee is $15, which includes all materials.

Aug. 7-11, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Students will continue work on masks and puppets and rehearse Have Trunk, Will Travel, with a possible special rehearsal Aug. 12. Fee is $15.

Aug. 15, 16, and 17, 7-9:30 p.m. Family Fun Nights. Participants will make a giant puppet from junk and learn the art+

s of mime and origami from experts. Fee is $3 per person each night, or all three nights for a family of three for $18. Fee includes all materials.

(Note: Students registering for two or more sessions will receive a discount.)

PERFORMANCES ARE:

Sunday, 2 p.m. A Grand New Circus Show, with puppeteer Ron Brown. Adults $5, children $3.

July 23, 2 p.m. Puppets Around the World, by the students of the camp. Adults $3, children $2.

Aug. 6, 2 p.m. Scenes from Famous Musicals, by students of the camp with their scarf puppets. Adults $3, children $2.

Aug. 13, 2 p.m. Have Trunk, Will Travel, scenes from Shakespeare by students with their puppets. Adults $3, children $2.

Aug. 27, 2 p.m. Anansi and the Tree of Life, with puppeteer Katie Adams. Adults $5, children $3.

For information about any of the sessions or tickets to the shows, call (727) 942-2222 or 784-6392.

The Frog Prince is at 210 S Pinellas Ave. (Alt. U.S. 19), Tarpon Springs (parking and entry are in the rear of the building off Lemon Avenue).

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