Accentuate the Positive

The editor of The Litchfield County Times, a 2010 SNA Newspaper of the Year, the national award-winning glossy magazine Passport and other publications, celebrates the best of what Northwest Connecticut and beyond has to offer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A New Way to Hibernate on a Saturday Morning

It’s news to no one at this point that New England, along with some other parts of the country, is weathering an old-fashioned winter that brings storm after school-closing storm and has left the landscape wrapped in a deep blanket of white.
It’s reason to give more than lip service to the time-honored instinct to hibernate in a warm, cozy nest. Traditionalists among us might do so with a nice fire, a beloved book, a rich red wine and some chamber music in the background. Children of the digital revolution would turn the same setting into a playground for wireless on-demand movies or some multi-media “cloud” that could follow them from one warm nook to another.
In Litchfield County, on Saturday mornings during a most inhospitable stretch—from Jan. 15 through March 26—a series of events ostensibly aimed at children actually forms a third-stream type of winter womb.
In this story by the Pumpernickel Puppets of Worcester, Mass., the mouse saves the lion from a hunter.
The fifth annual Puppetry Festival at the Washington Montessori School, for which The Litchfield County Times is a principal sponsor, represents a good reason to leave the “cave” and venture forth into a cold and snowy landscape.
Shows are presented at 10 and 11:30 a.m. each Saturday, with seats costing just $8.50 per person. While the productions may be geared toward children, it only takes attending a show or two to realize that—like the best things in any artistic medium—their appeal crosses generations.
John McDonough of the Pumpernickel Puppets shows a rabbit puppet to children attending the Jan. 15 show at Washington Montessori School.
Such stories as “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” “Rip Van Winkle,” and “Hansel & Gretel,” may seem simple and straightforward, but the issues they raise are often fodder for adult consideration. Perhaps the best aspect is that the collection of puppeteers assembled by Stephen Warshaw, the Chief Experience Officer at Moving Experiences, LLC, is so skilled that these narratives are only enhanced by the cartoon-like qualities inherent to puppetry.
As the puppeteers present a vividly exaggerated version of, well, everything, and ride the edge of hilarity, it would seem that the suspension of disbelief necessary to buy into the performance would be pushed to the breaking point. The opposite ends up being true, and you find yourself so mesmerized that when the show comes to its inevitable conclusion and the lights come up, you sort of blink and wonder with disappointment who snapped the scene back into reality—and why.
What you realize, ultimately, is that these Saturday morning puppet shows in the dead of winter are far more than entertainment for kids, and adults. In part because they’re held in the dark of the state-of-the-art theater at Washington Montessori School, and partly because of the communal nature of the gatherings, the experience is a new surrogate for hibernating in a culturally gleeful style.
Hannah Warshaw, left, interacts with a big bird puppet Jan. 15 ans her brother, Anderson, looks on.
 The Purple Rock Marionettes are presenting “The Snowmaiden” on Saturday, Jan. 22, and the Tanglewood Marionettes are presenting “An Arabian Adventure” on Jan. 29, followed by a roster of other fun shows through the end of March. To connect, see the school’s Web site at
Enjoy a show; it will help you enjoy the winter. After all, after being delighted by puppet masters, and perhaps having lunch nearby and doing a bit of shopping amid the cold-scape, you'll be primed to enjoy with extra intensity a Saturday evening by the fireside, a glass of wine in one hand, a book in the other and a classic movie cued up for when it's time to switch to vintage port.


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Location: New Milford, CT, United States

Executive Editor of a national award-winning publishing group with newspapers and glossy magazines: The Litchfield County Times, LCT magazine, Passport magazine, Fairfield County Life, etc. Contact me at

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