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2017 January 5 - 03:52 pm

College’s Theater Students Take Show on the Road

Shadow Puppet Show Aimed at Youngest Students

ALBANY, Ore. (AP) — Jaguar has had it with her friend Conejo, the little bunny that lives with her and the little old man and little old woman in a straw casa.

The food is gone and the old couple has decided to turn to Conejo for tonight’s dinner. But the tricky bunny pulls a fast one and vanishes into the jungle, leaving Jaguar to track down the furry-eared critter and get revenge.

But by the end of the shadow puppet play, put on by Linn-Benton Community College’s Touring Children’s Theater program, everyone is smiling — especially Conejo, who has found, shall we say, a most unusual new casa.

“The Smiling Rabbit” is LBCC’s sixth shadow puppet production, and its first bilingual effort, reported the Albany Democrat-Herald (http://bit.ly/2fW3TDh).

Designed for preschoolers through second-graders, the story is told partly in Spanish and partly in English to expand its audience reach, said Tinamarie Ivey, who teaches the class.

Ivey wrote the script, adapting a traditional Mexican folktale. Student Isaac Newton wrote all the songs and musical interludes. Four of the students speak both Spanish and English and worked through the script to see which language would best serve which scenes.

Together, the 10 students in the class created the puppets and scenery, then rehearsed twice a week for a month.

Through early December, the class takes the show to various schools in Linn and Benton counties. Setup, takedown, lights, scenery and sound effects are all a part of the job.

“This is service learning,” Ivey explained. “This is how they apply what they learned in the classroom.”

The Linn County Cultural Coalition contributes to the class by supporting enrollment of bilingual students through scholarships and making the show available to schools with immersion language programs, she said.

The objective of the traveling theater program is to provide cultural opportunities to schools that might not otherwise have access to them while giving college students a service learning experience.

On this particular day, the show unfolded at Sweet Home Charter School, where close to 75 pupils watched, wide-eyed, as Jaguar and Conejo found their way through various adventures.

After the show, each class had a chance to peek backstage and see how the actors operated the puppets: moving sticks to propel them around against the screen while light from an overhead projector threw their shapes into sharp relief.

“Why is the bunny so tricky?” one youngster asked.

“The bunny is really tricky,” Ivey agreed. “But they ended up being friends at the end, huh?” Ivey’s students said the show has presented some challenges. Some of the dialogue has had to be tweaked to make it flow a little more smoothly, and the puppets are fragile and occasionally need repairs.

All said they’ve really enjoyed the process so far, however. “I’d do it again for the experience,” Newton said.

The nice thing about a shadow puppet show, Ivey told the children in the audience, is that once they see how it’s done, they can make their own creations with nothing more than a sheet and a flashlight.

“This is something you can do yourself, at home,” she said.

Information from: Albany Democrat-Herald, http://www.dhonline.com

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