In 2016, staff members of the Mountain Regional Library formed a production troupe dedicated to puppet performance. Led by library Director, Vince Stone, this group scripts, choreographs and performs professional level puppet shows for our community. As of today, the group has performed over 24 shows in front of just under 1,500 people.
The main purpose of these productions is to use puppetry as a creative means to promote literacy.
“We want to get children excited about coming to the library,” says Stone. “If puppets can get them in, then the stories we tell might keep them here and get them to want more. They can get more by reading. That’s our goal.”
The group puts on regular shows of 30-40 minutes that can be performed at any location. The shows consist of songs, puppet interaction and then the main act such as Charlotte’s Web or Where the Wild Things Are. These productions use changing video backgrounds, music, lighting, sound effects and pre-recorded dialog all produced at MRLS headquarters.
“These shows are portable so we can reach beyond our library into public and private schools. This program is all about early literacy and making books come alive. We've successfully raised funds for this and if anyone would like to donate, please call us. If we can increase public library card applications and get kids interested in books through this effort, it will be extremely worthwhile.”
Stone was the only one with any puppetry background, but through many rehearsals, plus trial and error, the team improved their skills in order to give the children the best show possible.
“These are not your average puppet shows,” Stone adds. “It’s a full multi-media production designed to evoke all sorts of emotion… joy, fright, laughter, and sadness. Anything that a story can communicate, we want to express it with dramatic puppetry.”
The company’s first production with the main act of "Tortoise & The Hare" toured the Mountain Regional Library System in the Summer of 2016 and drew record crowds at each branch location.
"The response from the public, our patrons and the local media has been fantastic. We've really started something here that hopefully can continue for many years and can be an event that people really look forward to. Yes, it's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun."