MARIONETTES, animated household objects and faces fit for "Fraggle Rock" set the stage for a "manualfesto" of puppetry at the Walking Fish Theatre, in Kensington, on Saturday.
Billed as "puppetry not for children," the "Puppet Manualfesto Fall Showcase" will feature two shows of live work and film, plus music from Walking Fish house band, Up Your Cherry, with Matt and Melissa Dunphy.
Think of it as a poetry slam or literary reading - with puppets, said Martina Plag, vice president of the Greater Philadelphia Puppetry Guild and founder of Frankford-based puppet theater company Studium-Praxis, which got a grant from the Puppet Slam Network to fund a series of events that includes the "Fall Showcase." Plag is curator and producer of the show.
"When people hear 'puppetry,' they don't always know what to expect," said Plag. There is a diverse range of artists and acts in the slam, but all use puppets, masks, or moving objects in some way.
"I try to keep it very inclusive," Plag said.
Here's a rundown of slam participants:
* House troupe FOPI (Found Object Puppet Improv) has two pieces in the slam. One features improvised animation of everyday objects, including kitchen utensils, balls and cleaning devices, to create characters selected by audience members. The group also will do a shadow-puppetry piece. FOPI was founded by Lorna Howley, a renowned puppetista from Atlanta who relocated to the Philadelphia area.
* Greater Philadelphia Puppetry Guild member Jeff Cleve will present a Jersey Devil story, and his creations will pop out between acts to serve as puppet bartenders. He presented a traditional "Punch and Judy" piece in the last slam.
* Three original short puppet films also will fill the breaks between acts, including work by Anna Cherniahivsky, Gina Leigh and Lindsey Martin.
* Joe Cashore will debut pieces from his body of intricate marionette work. He's the recipient of both a PEW Fellowship for Performance Art and a Henson Foundation Grant.
* Mum Puppet Theatre founding director Robert Smythe returns with a new piece that premiered at the Eugene O'Neill Theater's National Puppetry Conference, this summer in Waterford, Conn. Smythe ran the Philadelphia-based Mum for 23 years before it disbanded in 2008.
* Actor and director Bill Hanson is voicing a tabletop piece in collaboration with FOPI's Howley, with animation by Josh Totora and Carlos and Jordan Ruis.
A truck will serve empanadas during intermission and between the shows, which also will feature a green-room live feed to demystify the backstage realm.