“We should take a picture of this now,” someone said as we all admired our surroundings. We were in the Helen C. Barber upper lobby of the Roda Theatre, standing amidst an array of Tupperware containers filled with buttons and foam; brightly colored yarn, gingerly placed; scraps of fabric from the costume shop in neat piles; and bowls of vibrant pom-poms all carefully arranged atop five tables covered in crisp, white paper. It was Saturday, just before one o’clock, and we were about to launch Berkeley Rep’s first-ever Sock Puppet Palooza.
I felt a bit like Kevin Costner-as-Ray-Kinsella must have felt in Field of Dreams, admiring his completed, neatly manicured baseball diamond with its unmarred chalk lines and flat, cleat-mark-free dirt: Something big was about to happen. A table of neatly arranged craft supplies is really much the same as an unused baseball diamond: it sure looks pretty, but where’s the fun?
Fortunately, our Shoeless Joe arrived in the form of a birthday girl, her best friend, and younger brother. The three came prepared with a package of gray men’s socks, large enough, when placed on the arms of the children, that they were full sleeves. They were soon joined by about 20 other kids, all of whom took to the tables with fervor. Our neat piles and rows were ransacked as small hands searched for the perfect pom-pom or the ideal pipe cleaner. Feathers spilled out of containers and onto the floor. We soon learned that creativity outmatched organization: though bright signs announced each table as being designated for the creation of eyes or mouths, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre staff was asked to help fashion everything from neckties to belly buttons for the young artists, many of whom had very clear aesthetic visions for their puppets.
As the house lights flashed to announce the imminent curtain, a grandmother-hero worked hastily to ensure a puppet’s purple coif was secure on his head. At another table, School of Theatre teaching artist Devon and my very own puppet, Sean, were deep in conversation with a blonde puppeteer and her creation, a fabulous pumpkin-colored creature with a shock of bright yarn for hair, a curly French moustache, glasses, and a goatee. They bid one another farewell and headed into the Roda, along with all of the other puppeteers and their newly created friends. Mr. Fuzzles would not be the only sock in the house for this particular matinee.
We surveyed the scene: the supplies were strewn over the table and our hands were sticky with glue. The mess was clear evidence: not only will they come, they will also build it themselves -- that is, as long as they are provided with a glue stick and some craft supplies.
Sock Puppet Palooza continues each Saturday before the 2pm matinee of Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead. Bring your own sock to transform or buy a Berkeley Rep sock in the theatre lobby for $3 (or a pair for $5).
Photos by Ben Hanna.
My daughter, the "birthday girl" mentioned in this post, had a wonderful time. The staff that worked with the kids was so attentive, creative and sweet. Thanks for making our outing to the theater so special!
Thanks, Tricia! What a kind post--we're glad the kids had fun.
- Rachel, BRT Fellow
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