Theater company combines puppetry with acting to present lighthearted show with serious message

Union Leader Correspondent |
November 15. 2012 3:49PM

TELLING TALES: A tale with a serious message but a lighthearted approach, "The Man Who Planted Trees" is a stage adaptation of a Jean Giono fable that features actors and puppets. St. Anselm College's Dana Center for the Humanities in Goffstown will present the production on Friday, Nov. 16. 

ON THE ROAD: Scotland's Puppet State Theatre Company has performed "The Man Who Planted Trees" at schools, villages and festivals across the world, including off Broadway and at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. 

If you're looking for a show that combines comedy, theater and just a bit of whimsy, the upcoming presentation of "The Man Who Planted Trees" by Scotland's Puppet State Theatre Company may be just be the ticket.

Held at St. Anselm College's Dana Center for the Humanities in Goffstown on Friday, Nov. 16, "The Man Who Planted Trees" is the adaptation of Jean Giono's timeless fable of a humble peasant who replants a forest, acorn by acorn, transforming what was barren land to a colorful landscape.

Using a combination of actors and puppets, the story takes a serious message - taking care of the earth - and presents it in a lighthearted way, said Bob Shea, director of the Dana Center.

"It has a fabulous sense of humor," Shea said. "There is a profound and valued message, but it's highly entertaining."

The group, through the performances, sends a fantastic message that doesn't come off as preachy, Shea said.

Although the group uses puppets in its performances, Shea said the shows aren't just for kids.

"It's a company that appeals to young audiences and adults alike, because they're so innovative," he said.

The company makes its own puppets, and Shea said it has a signature performance style, with universal stories that are turned into plays.

"It's very unique," he said. "It has this aesthetic quality about it that people really respond to."

The Edinburgh-based Puppet State Theatre Company has performed the show at schools, villages and festivals across Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as Malaysia, Bermuda, the Netherlands and Canada. It has also been performed off Broadway and at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

"They're very well-respected nationally," Shea said.

The Puppet State Theatre Company was founded by Richard Medrington. After performing his one-man puppet shows for 20 years, he joined forces with puppeteers Rick Conte and Ailie Cohen in 2006.

Tickets are available for Friday's 7 p.m. show, though Shea said only half of the theater will be filled in order to create a more intimate performance. For more details, call the box office at 641-7700.
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