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Rods, Hands, Shadows, and Strings: Bobbindoctrin's 7th Annual Puppet Festival

The time has come for Bobbindoctrin's 7th Annual Puppet Festival. That's right, the SEVENTH annual puppet festival. Just when you think you've got Houston all sorted and figured out, up bubbles yet another creative wellspring of artists stretching the form and tradition of their chosen medium into something unexpected, daring and contemporary. The size and scope of the activities and ambitions of Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre, a local company of puppeteers working closely with sculptors, musicians, and playwrights, has grown considerably since their first shows back in 1995. On March 11th and 12th at 8pm and March 13th at 2pm at the Midtown Arts Center, you can see for yourself how far they've come and how much variety and depth of expression exists in their world of rods, hands, shadows, and strings.

On tap for the festival this weekend, Bobbindoctrin company members and local artists present several live puppet shows including Tommy, Bobbindoctrin's artistic director Joel Orr and collaborator Justin Dunford's tale of a young Tom Waits and his "impatience with childhood," Beast Baby Hospital, lovingly imagined and realized by Camella Clements, and The Mania of Bonaparte: A One-Sided Epistolary Romance, Paedarchy Puppets' exploration of Napoleon Bonaparte's insecurities as expressed to his lover Josephine. Puppet films to be screened include Walt Zipprian's Swizzle about "a strange and pivotal afternoon at the now-extinct Mary's Bar in Montrose," Katie Jackson's Reign Subterraneo where orphaned twins and their friend Bella seek to rescue the last shadow from extinction, and several more, many coming courtesy of film distributor Handmade Puppet Dreams.

Inspired in part by non-Western puppetry, including the Indonesian art of Wayang and Japanese tradition of Bunraku, Bobbindoctrin's puppet performances explore a wide range of adult scenarios and emotions. However, Bobbindoctrin also presents more "kid friendly" fare. Children and parents raised on the paint-peeling screech of a certain orange monster should check out the festival's March 13th at 2pm all-ages "Festival Fambly Day" (awww!) where kid appropriate shows from the festival's participating artists are presented for a "fambly" audience. After the performance, children will no doubt be inspired to invade Mom and Dad's sock drawers.

Bobbindoctrin's 7th Annual Puppet Festival takes place March 4, 5, 7, 11, and 12 at 8pm and March 6 and 13 at 2pm (Festival Fambly Days) at Midtown Arts Center, 3414 La Branch, Houston, TX, 77004. Call (713) 259-1304 for more information. $12 recommended admission. A full schedule is available at the Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre website.

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