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Marionette Performance Brings Taft Summer Reading Program to a Close

Puppeteer Peter Schaefer brings the Persian Prince into the audience as part of the show.

A tale of love, adventure, and good versus evil marked the end of the Taft Library's Summer Reading Program, Dream Big: Read! During the evening of August 22, the Tanglewood Marionettes brought their version of An Arabian Adventure to a very packed cafetorium at the Clough School. The show was sponsored by the Taft Public Library.

An Arabian Adventure told the tale of a Persian prince who was thrown into a dungeon after he fell in love with a princess. With the help of a kind spirit, he must escape the dungeon full of spiders, scorpions, and snakes before the princess is forced to marry an evil suitor.

Before the show began, puppeteer Peter Schaefer discussed the craft of puppetry and how it is literally at children's fingertips; namely their hands. He then showed his young audience how to create their own puppet with a simple hand glove.

During the Arabian Adventure performance, Schaefer and puppeteer Anne Ware were in full view so the audience could see how the pair brought the marionettes to life. At one point in the show, the Persian prince actually traveled into the audience and onto some parents for some more fun. It also gave everyone an opportunity to see the marionettes up close.

The Tanglewood Marionettes was founded nearly 20 years ago by Schaefer and Ware. The duo hails from the New England area but tour nationally. Their highly acclaimed shows are based mostly on classic tales. In addition to An Arabian Adventure, they have also performed Cinderella, The Dragon King, Hansel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty.

After the Arabian Adventure show, attendees were treated to delicious ice cream thanks to the Friends of the Taft Library and the Taft Public Library staff. Other sponsors included George's Surf and Turf, Hannaford's, BJ's, and Shaw's. In addition to the ice cream, Schaefer answered questions about the puppets and allowed everyone to view the beautifully crafted details of each marionette. This was a return performance for the Tanglewood Marionettes, who closed the Taft Summer Reading Program last year. Children's Librarian Andrew Jenrich said he brought them back again because they were so well received.

In all, 280 children registered for the summer reading program this year. At the Tanglewood performance, Jenrich announced that 100 children had completed the program thus far, which adds up to 20 hours of reading for each child through the summer months.


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