Yorick's Productions (Saunderstown, RI)

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Female artist demonstrating marbleizing paper for a group of young home school students 

A resident at Adult Day Center in Waterford, Connecticut, displays her own hand-made puppet during the Yorick’s Productions presentation. Photo by Dusan Petran

Since 1991 Yorick’s Productions has been performing classical and Czech traditional puppetry with marionettes hand-carved by artist Dusan Petran. In addition to its performances, Yorick presents lectures, demonstrations, and workshops on puppet and marionette making, and provides apprenticeships in this art. Yorick also takes their art into the schools, where students learn about the mechanics of movement and then create their own puppets and use them to perform their own stories. When programming these activities, Yorick focuses on reaching those in need, performing for children in hospitals and special education programs.

Yorick received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $10,000 in FY 2006 for their Young at Heart tour, another component of their mission to bring art to underserved audiences, in this case, senior citizens. Between July 2006 and April 2007, Yorick traveled to 20 senior centers in the North East region. At each center, Yorick presented a performance designed around music popular in the 1940s and 1950s, chosen in particular to appeal to their audience. Following the performance, Yorick provided a short lecture demonstration on the history of marionettes and puppetry in the United States. Participants were then given the opportunity to handle the marionettes and create their own short dialogues with them. The activities concluded with participants making their own puppets out of a variety of materials.

The Young at Heart tour is designed as a way for residents to both recall memories of their youth in the 1940s and 1950s and also express themselves artistically by manipulating the marionettes, singing along with the production’s songs, and creating their own work of art. In total, approximately 700 people participated in Yorick’s workshops, and in some communities, it provided an activity for the seniors and their grandchildren to participate in together.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)