Sandglass Theater plans first in-person events since pandemic

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PUTNEY — Small groups or "pods" of people are invited to stroll the grounds of the Sandglass Theater this week when the organization holds its first in-person event since March.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sandglass Theater will hold Footpath to the Puppets, a walk-through experience with three outdoor performance stations featuring the work of Sandglass co-founders Eric Bass and Ines Zeller Bass, co-artistic director Shoshana Bass and associate artist Jana Zeller. Each station will host three performances, one every hour at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3, 4 and 5 p.m. Sunday. The rain dates for this event are Sept. 18 to 20.

"This is our first little dip into an in-person, outdoor live event since March," Shoshana Bass said. "We took a lot of time to think about safety protocols and how to make it a safe experience and a magical puppetry experience."

The performances are "Feral," an excerpt of a new project by Shoshana Bass addressing the act of making visible and reclaiming the work of women; "Puppet Crimes" by Jana Zeller, excerpts from a piece featuring traditional German hand puppet heroes Kasper and Gretel as they struggle to survive in an old shack on the margins of society; and "Mud" by Eric Bass and Ines Zeller Bass, one of the most popular Sandglass short pieces, originally titled "The Ballad of the Muddy Road."

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has put on virtual programming by streaming archive footage of Sandglass performances, live question-and-answer sessions and online puppet building workshops.

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"With all the online programming, we really missed our local community," Shoshana Bass said. "We are a local organization situated in a certain place in a certain community, and this was a way that we could serve the place we live in the localness of where we live. Whereas, everything we've done this summer has reached out into our global networks, this one is really for our local community."

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An international puppet festival planned for this year was postponed to 2022. Bass said the outdoor events are similar to Puppets in Paradise, an outdoor element of the festival.

"This is a much simplified version of that," she said. "It came about through thinking how we can create a sense of safety, but also have more people be able to see the performance, and this really celebrates the intimacy of puppetry, something quite small that can be shared."

At Footpath to the Puppets, each pod will be limited to four people, and four pods — a total of 16 people — are allowed at each performance station. Tickets will be sold by group, or "pod," and are available online at Pods may have between one and four individuals each. Ticket pod prices are a sliding scale, starting at $10 per person.

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A second outdoor event planned this month is a Gallery Exhibit featuring new paintings by Ines Zeller Bass, and a pop-up Crankie performance featuring her artwork. Crankie is an old storytelling art form on a long, illustrated scroll.

Ines Zeller Bass wrote, "Who is hanging pictures outdoors between weeds and falling leaves? Yet another unusual act during a time where improvisation becomes the spice of life. I would like to invite you to the great outdoors at Sandglass Theater to take a peek into 'My Other World,' a peek at a new set of images painted with joy, fury, humor and water color, each one framed in a different way and with a small component of animation."

The gallery event, from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 26 and 27, is free to the public, though donations are welcome.

All visitors to the Sandglass Theater grounds will be required to wear masks and maintain a minimum of 6 feet between groups. To ensure health and safety, traffic flow will be regulated, and all visitors will complete a brief health survey and temperature check prior to admittance.


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