Puppet Power Artist Feature – Creating during Covid

Puppet Power: Festival of Ideas All Access PassIn association with our Puppet Power: Festival of Ideas which runs May 23 – 29, 2022  we’re excited to offer the Puppet Power Artist Feature, a series of blogs exploring the role of puppetry in ‘celebration’ of some sort or another. Thank you to the puppeteers from around the world, who contributed their insights and their work in these challenging times.  

Celebrating Opportunities – Creating during Covid

by Peter Michael Marino, producer, director, developer, writer, teacher, and performer,
PM2 Entertainment, New York,
(edited Wendy Passmore-Godfrey)

Poster of Planet of the Grapes
Planet of the Grapes by Peter Micheal Merino

“Planet of the Grapes Live” owes its very existence to the creative team members actually celebrating the opportunities that Covid lockdowns created, as opposed to letting the restrictions hold our artistry and creativity back. As a stage performer/producer with no live theater to present in, I needed to celebrate live theater at a time when actual theaters were closed.

Celebrating the artistry and innovation of the past and embracing the Toy Theater movement allowed us to create a show that mimics the live theater experience while also doing exactly what toy theater did – bringing theater into people’s homes.

As a huge fan of the original 1968 “Planet of the Apes” film, I wanted to share my obsession with this ground-breaking sci-fi film and create something that would present the story and sociological messages with a fresh take. The film’s themes of science vs. religion, biased class systems, and mankind’s self-perceived entitlement to everything on Earth, strongly resonate with me and I peppered the script with excavated passages from co-screenwriter Rod Serling’s original screenplays.

In our comedic and faithful homage, “Planet of the Grapes Live,” an astronaut crew crash-lands on an unfamiliar planet in the distant future and are enslaved by a society where grapes (yes, the fruit) have evolved into speaking creatures with human-like intelligence.

With this show, we are celebrating a sense of play that so many of us adults have let slip away. Puppetry has always been a performance medium that entertains and enlightens all ages with a sense of play and wonder. We celebrate theater history, the arts and its many guises, the world of film and its effect on society, and we celebrate the ability to make our work accessible through digital performances.

Created and performed Peter Michael Marino
Directed by Michole Biancosino
Original score by Michael Harren

Puppet Power Artist Feature

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