Puppets Entertain at Rector

Thursday, April 25, 2013
TryANTasaurus warns the uninterested dinosaur about the impending snowstorm during the Bits & Pieces Puppet Theatre performance Friday at the Rector Community Center

The Rector Community Center hosted two outstanding performances by the Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theatre of Tampa Bay, Fla. on Friday as part of a special presentation made possible by the Clay County Arts Council.

Presenting "Aesop's Dinosaur Fable," Bits 'N Pieces stars Holli Rubin, who portrayed the hard-working and prepared TryANTasaurus, and Jerry Bickell, who wears the unique body puppet form of both Aesop and the neglectful dinosaur, brought forth the adage, "It's better to prepare today for tomorrow" to life in bright color with amusing performances which captured the attention of audience members of all ages. Rubin does much of the design work for the theatre's puppets. Brickell handles the bulk of the writing duties.

"It was a wonderful show," CCAC president Gail Burns said. "The audience thoroughly enjoyed it; whether they were young students or grandparents. It appealed to people of all ages."

In the production, TryANTasaurus warned the carefree dinosaur of an impending snow storm, but the dancing, bright green behemoth paid no mind. When the snow hit, a freezing and starving dinosaur was given assistance by the friendly ant, but reminded of the valuable lesson of planning ahead.

"It's a lesson that benefits us all," Burns said. "It's a moral that remains true today, in all walks of life."

The performances also included traditional hand puppets and two shadow puppet performances.

Bits 'N Pieces works to adapt each of their productions in order to complement the types of studies and curriculum utilized in elementary classrooms across the United States. The group focuses on presenting classic children's stories, providing positive reinforcement through the onstage portrayal of life lessons while appealing to young viewers through the colorful characters and elements of fantasy.

Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theatre tours not only the United States, but also has brought delight to crowds in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan and other areas through international tours, in addition to regular shows at the PuppetWorld Playhouse in Tampa Bay.

Friday's shows played to several Rector elementary classes, as well as Piggott High School Art students. PHS Art teacher Jerri Tate's students have been designing their own body puppets, and were able to speak with Rubin following the afternoon performance. Rubin shared insight from her years of working with puppets and performing onstage with the students.

The performances were made possible by contributions from CCAC sponsors Rector Downtown Drug, Piggott State Bank, Graves Gin and Glen Sain.

"We're very appreciative of our sponsors and wish to thank them for helping us bring this show to our community," Burns said. "This would not have been possible without their support."

The Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theatre will be touring with their production of "Three Billy Goats Gruff" in 2014.

"It would be wonderful to have them come back," Burns said. "Hopefully, we can arrange that in the future. I think the audiences here today would certainly enjoy that."

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