“How can we be so different and feel so much alike? And how we can feel so different and be so much alike?” These questions are at the heart of the best-selling book, Stellaluna, by author and illustrator, Janell Cannon. Notions of diversity and inclusion explored in the book inspired Center for Puppetry Arts Artistic Director Jon Ludwig to bring this story to the stage. “It’s a classic story of finding one’s place in the world and accepting others for what and who they are” says Ludwig. With birds and bats as the central protagonists in the story, the book is perfectly suited to be adapted for the puppet theater.
“The challenge in designing and building the puppets for this production has been striking a balance between honoring the naturalistic illustrations in the book and creating individual puppet characters with distinctive, recognizable personalities and features and they all have to fly,” says Resident Puppet Builder Jason Hines.
The result is a cast of bird and bat rod puppets that will be manipulated using overt puppetry, a puppetry style in which the puppeteers are fully visible. They will be performed on a set that is larger than any production ever seen before at the Center. Scenic Designer F. Elaine Williams is pushing the physical boundaries of the Mainstage Theater at the Center to create a spectacular world for Stellaluna. Lighting by Liz Lee, original music by Dolph Amick, costumes by Erik Teague and sound by Gregory Montague round out the artistic team assembled by Ludwig to create this new production for the Center.
Continuing a collaborative tradition of working in and with schools to create new works (an initiative started in 2015), Ludwig and Center for Puppetry Arts Education Director Aretta Baumgartner will visit Atlanta Public Schools’ Burgess-Peterson Academy five times between September of 2019 and March of 2020. These visits empower students to explore the characters and themes in Stellaluna though creative dramatics, visual art, music, puppetry, reading and reflection activities. The reactions of the students to the material offers the Center’s artistic team valuable insights into what resonates with the students and why the story relevant in their lives. This information is then actively incorporated into the design and development of the production.
On Saturday, January 25, guests are invited to a special 1 p.m. performance of Stellaluna. General Admission tickets to this performance will include a post-show Q&A with Janell Cannon and the Center for Puppetry Arts Artistic Director Jon Ludwig. This is a rare opportunity to hear directly from both artists about how the book Stellaluna is adapted from page to the puppet stage. Guests can upgrade their experience with VIP or Ultra VIP level tickets. All VIP and Ultra VIP tickets include admission to the performance, Museum, and Create-A-Puppet Workshop™ plus one free copy of the book, Stellaluna, and an invitation to a book signing with Janell Cannon at noon, one hour prior to the 1 p.m. performance. Those who prefer the Ultra VIP experience will receive all of the above plus access to a meet and greet with the author, Center’s Artistic Director and members of the cast of Stellaluna. The reception will take place in the Love Family Atrium at the Center immediately following the performance and Q&A.
On February 2, Girl Scouts are invited to join the Center for Puppetry Arts for a celebration of puppetry and STEM! A special post-show Scouts-only presentation will make Science connections with the show and reveal the Technology behind the performances (including the computers, lights and sound systems we use to create our puppetry magic). A guided tour in the Worlds of Puppetry Museum will highlight the Engineering behind the Jim Henson puppets and puppetry traditions from across the world, and a customized Create-A-Puppet Workshop™ will celebrate the Math applications utilized in making a one-of-a-kind puppet (shapes, angles, measuring, symmetry, fractions). This activity is for Girl Scouts only and information is available at the Ticket Sales Office.
As part of the Center’s sensory-friendly initiative for visitors with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Sensory-Friendly Sunday for Stellaluna will be presented on Sunday, February 16 from noon to 5 p.m. This special afternoon will allow guests with ASD to experience programming in a comfortable and safe setting with staff members who have been trained in interactions with patrons with ASD. Modifications and resources include a quiet zone, light and sound adjustments, fidget toys, sound-reducing headphones, sunglasses, and social stories.
Recommended for ages four and up, Stellaluna will be presented in the Mainstage Theater, January 21-March 8.
Reduced-price previews take place Tuesday, Jan 21 and 22 at 10 a.m. and noon. The regular show schedule is as follows:
- Tuesday - Wednesday: 10 a.m. and noon
- Thurs - Friday: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Saturday: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Sunday: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
January 28-March 8
- Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
- Saturday: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Sunday: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
All-inclusive ticket prices vary but start at $19.50 (members) and $25 (nonmembers) and include entrance to the Create-A Puppet Workshop™, where guests can make, decorate and perform with their own Stellaluna Rod & String Puppet, as well as admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum, featuring the world’s largest collection of Jim Henson puppets and one of the country’s largest collections of global puppets. Tickets can be purchased online at the Center for Puppetry Arts or by calling 404.873.3391.
Center for Puppetry Arts is located at 1404 Spring St. NW at 18th Atlanta, GA 30309-2820. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone: 404.873.3391. Center for Puppetry Arts is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo.
LIKE THIS ARTICLE: Sandy Springs Dunwoody Macaroni Kid is a free weekly newsletter and website focused on fun family events and information in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Doraville, Atlanta, and Perimeter. We gather together all kinds of local family events and activities each week and add useful information about classes, family-focused businesses, book and product reviews, recipes, crafts, school and camp guides and more. We proudly serve families in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Doraville, Atlanta, and Perimeter! Sandy Springs Dunwoody Macaroni Kid is full of useful local information like this PLUS tons of kid-friendly events on our event calendar. Have an event you'd like submitted to our calendar for consideration? Submit an event here. Like what you see here and want to get all the fun delivered to your inbox weekly? Subscribe to our FREE weekly e-newsletter for 411 on the local family fun. You can find Sandy Springs Dunwoody Macaroni Kid on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.