A Puppet Slamwich is geared for an adult audience, yet it taps into a childlike imaginary realm where inanimate objects are stirred to life through playful action. Typically hosted at the intimate Black Cherry Puppet Theater in Sowebo, this fall’s Puppet Slamwich took place in the Current Space courtyard on Saturday, September 24th. The puppet theater had been hosting indoor events with limited capacity, but partnering with Current Space enabled them to host this past Puppet Slamwich outdoors for two sold-out crowds.
Emily Schubert, the charismatic host, came out in character as Suzie Sal the Science Gal, a science enthusiast with the same eccentric personalities of Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ms. Frizzle. Dressed in a long white lab coat, her neon hair clips and colorful socks added extra flair. Professing her passion for a variety of “ologies” that would make podcaster Alie Ward proud, Suzie Sal emphasized her recent experiments with “puppetology” and presented the Puppet-o-meter, an instrument that would measure the levels of collective joy created by the audience throughout the puppet show.
The first performer was Emily Kobert with a rendition of the oral folk tale “Her Golden Arm.” Kobert told the story with a 40-foot-long crankie scroll, using black and gold ink, and a gouache-resist technique on freezer paper. At the beginning, the illustrations featured high-contrast silhouettes of figures, perhaps to convey the grief that consumed the main character, a secluded widow. But as the story progressed, the illustrations became more detailed and expressive, depicting the widow’s golden years with her childhood friend, who happened to have a golden arm. Then there was a surprise ghost-story ending, where a broken promise paved the way for strange solace.