Rowan University Puppet Artists began their preparation for Christmas Yet to Come this past Saturday, Sept. 24, as they held auditions for their production of Charles Dickinson’s “A Christmas Carol.”
The RU Puppet Artists (RUPA) are scheduled to present their production on Dec. 2 at Glassboro’s annual Boro in Lights Christmas tree lighting, held in the Glassboro Town Square from 6 to 9 p.m.
This is RUPA’s second year putting on “A Christmas Carol.” Last year at the festival, they did a total of five performances throughout the night, showcasing over 50 puppets. This year, director Jeremy Burns is determined to make the production even better.
“A lot of puppets are getting redesigned. We’re repainting a whole bunch of stuff. We’re redoing the blocking and hoping to bring a bit of fun and play,” said Burns. “I just want it to be a real good time.”
Last year, Burns took part in “A Christmas Carol” as a puppeteer and puppet constructor. However, this fall semester, he is bringing his education as a theater major and prior directorial experience to his new position.
The club is also looking to do more shows outside of the Boro in Lights festival.
“We are going to be doing [a performance] at our department’s colloquial meeting and I believe we are trying to get more performances scheduled for other venues,” said Burns.
At their first round of auditions, returning RUPA members helped newcomers get comfortable using the puppets. According to the club’s Instagram bio, one of the reasons the club was founded was to increase the accessibility of puppetry to Rowan University students “through accessible and sustainable practices.”
“We are seeking to get performers trained in puppetry, get them building and then get them on stage,” Burns said.
Those who auditioned learned how to effectively use their puppets to create characterization. This involved manipulating movable parts such as arms, legs or heads and utilizing body language to bring their puppets’ frozen facial expressions to life. Once acquainted with the puppets, the group brought out their quick-thinking, creative side through a couple of rounds of improv.
Unfortunately, due to the College of Performing Arts students’ busy schedules, the RU Puppet Artists’ audition fell at the same time as its members’ other rehearsals and obligations, causing a smaller turnout than expected.
Luckily, it is not too late for interested students to get involved with RUPA. They are hosting another round of auditions on Friday, Sept. 30, at Wilson Hall, Room 114 from 3 to 5 p.m.
“I just want people to feel like they can come out and have fun with puppets,” Burns said. “Puppets are awesome and very easy to get into.”
For more information on Rowan University Puppet Artists’ upcoming events and how to get involved, check out their Instagram page @ru_puppet_artists.
Artists Emile Wong, Juliette Hunter, Jacob Kantrowitz, Jeremy Burns, Sarah Zinger, Grace Fox, and Jim Garvey joined together on Sept. 24 for RUPA auditions. / Photo via Morgan Murnane
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