Boston Spotlights

A Little Fantasy at The Puppet Showplace Theater

By Sydney Bernal

Neighborly Love is a section meant to showcase and celebrate the exciting happenings that are occurring around and within the greater Boston area.  


This past weekend, I escaped the cold and ventured deep into the heart of Brookline to a special evening show of “The Fairy Tailor,” by Sarah Nolen. The third-ever resident artist at The Puppet Showplace Theater, Nolen is known for her incredible creativity and ability to work across multiple puppetry styles. I arrived early, and from the moment I entered, I could tell this was a place where creativity was not only produced but celebrated. I sat among puppets waiting to find homes, children’s coloring tables, a cardboard city, a giant fish, and from the adjoining theater, my anticipation built as I heard Nolan rehearsing.

Soon it was time to enter the theater; the seating area was cozy with exposed bricks and puppets from previous shows embellishing the walls. I sat along one of the walls on a bench, which, adhering to theater policy, guaranteed everyone the ability to see. Children flocked enchanted to the benches in the middle. Puppets aren’t just for the enjoyment of children, however. This evening performance, for example, was composed of a majority adults–many just as excited and mesmerized as the children.

As for the performance, I wasn’t let down: I left feeling hopeful and happy. Happy that artists like Nolen are able to fabricate from their imaginations and then construct worlds. Worlds full of physical surprises, such as a wolf coat who eats other characters, or buttons and spools of thread that become cities through elaborate shadow work. Nolan seamlessly rotates through characters and reiterates what it means to be a creator.


In my experiences, I’ve often found puppetry to be an underrated art form. When throughout the week I had told my friends of my weekend plans pertaining to the show, I received many different reactions: at best curiosity, at worst something verging on mockery. But was their skepticism really their fault? When most people think of puppetry, they think of Sesame Street or Pinocchio, quickly writing it off as made exclusively for children. In doing this we deprive ourselves of an art form that is both rich with history, as well as innovation.

This was my third experience with puppets and my first full-length puppet production. In each of my experiences, I have seen Puppeteers repeatedly shock and amaze with their out-of-the-box discoveries. In fact, it was in a sneak preview set from Nolen in one of The Puppet Showplace Theater’s puppet slams that I was first introduced to “The Fairy Tailor.” Puppet slams, unlike puppet shows are generally aimed at an adult audience, are made up of a wide variety of puppeteers and show performances, and are more experimental in nature. This experimental air was not lost in “The Fairy Tailor,” with Nolen transforming clothing into puppets, nick-nacks into puppets, and at times even herself into a puppet. 

“The Fairy Tailor” gave its final show February 19, but do not fret if you missed this one; there are plenty of upcoming shows to get excited about, including “Lisa the Wise,” which will be showing March 15 – 18, 2018.  


Boston Spotlights

Biking to Walden Pond

by Grace An

Neighborly Love is a section meant to showcase and celebrate the exciting happenings that are occurring around and within the greater Boston area.  

First word of advice: don’t do it.

On the other hand: do it anyway. But maybe consider taking the Commuter Rail, or calling an Uber, or coercing a friend to drive you. Because while Walden Pond’s early autumn majesty is surely worth whatever effort you take to get there, it’s probably more enjoyable with a beach towel, a picnic, and some non-exhausted, non-dehydrated company.

mcmullen ducks

Seeing as our October 20th Art After Dark event is entitled Into the Woods, I figured a visit to Henry David Thoreau’s cabin would be in keeping with this semester’s theme of landscape escapism. In part, I was also inspired by a certain previous Student Ambassador who made the journey on foot. Lacking both the time and the patience, I thought biking would be just as economical while also considerably less time-consuming. And while perhaps walking would have been more faithful to Thoreau’s transcendental isolationism, I consoled myself with the thought that at least I wasn’t taking a form of motorized transportation.

A good portion of my ride took place on the Charles River Greenway, which follows along alternating banks of its namesake river. It’s a mostly flat path, sometimes wood-paved, that would make for a nice, easy weekend hike. I took a break halfway through to take some pictures of ducks.

mcmullen beachAs for the destination itself, I have to admit that I was caught by surprise. Walden Pond is really more of a lake-beach hybrid than a pond. It is surrounded by a ring of sand, and there were dozens of people swimming and kayaking in the translucent turquoise water. A few feet above the beach is a forest path that runs along the entire length of the pond.

mcmullen cabinThoreau’s cabin is a just short detour uphill into the surrounding forest. The site is marked by a stone situated where the cabin’s chimney used to be, surrounded by chain-linked stone pillars. Behind it is a smaller enclosed space where his shed was. The physical remains of the site are rather underwhelming, yet one can’t help but feel that some spiritual memory lingers. It is peaceful there. Even today, the sounds of the country roads seem far away, and one can only hear the the calls of the birds above, the scurrying of woodland creatures in the undergrowth, and the lazy movement of water in the distance.

No doubt a bike trip to Walden Pond isn’t your average Saturday afternoon activity, but perhaps the biggest take-away from this ill-conceived adventure is that the greater Boston area is surprisingly bike-friendly. So, the next time you’re itching to get somewhere outside of the BC Bubble, consider biking there.


Boston Spotlights

Boston Spotlights: April 2017

Fusion Presents: Elements XVII

courtesy of Fusion 

BC’s own ALC Showdown is just a small part of the vibrant dance community in Boston. If our talented dancers have inspired you, check out BU Fusion’s annual Elements hip hop dance competition. The event features teams from all along the east coast and includes performances from world-class dance groups. This year’s highlights are Phunk Phenomenon, The CONcept Artists, and Culture Shock DC. Not content with just watching? Workshops will be held on the second day and are being taught by Franklin Yu, Sorah Yang, Melvin Timtim, Just Jerk, and Beau Fournier.

April 1st-2nd, 7:00 p.m. Boston Univeristy, 775 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA.

YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City

courtesy of The Welcome Project

Tired of dining hall food? YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City is bringing together 7 immigrant-run restaurants in Somerville to serve up some delicious ethnic cuisine, including Ethiopian, Portuguese, and Nepalese. The event also includes a silent auction and raffle. All proceeds benefit The Welcome Project, a Somerville organization that helps to integrate new immigrants into the community. From youth programs to English classes for adults, The Welcome Project aims to promote diversity and civic engagement in a multi-cultural city. Take advantage of the student discount to grab some YUMmy food for a  good cause!

April 6th, 7:00 p.m. Center for the Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA.

Ladyfest Boston 2017


ladyfest boston 2017
courtesy of Ladyfest Boston

Ladyfest Boston is bringing the phenomenon of international Ladyfests to the city! The completely volunteer-run fundraiser aims to promote minorities in the arts. The three-day event includes speakers, panelists, workshops, and a flea market accompanied by quiet performances.

April 14th – 16th, Cambridge YMCA, 820 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA.

World Premiere Musical: The Kiss

courtesy of Pinterest

The characters of Gustav Klimt’s most iconic painting are being brought to life for the first time by students at the Berklee College of Music. The musical explores the life of the man and the artist during the tumultuous period of turn-of-the-century Vienna. Be part of he performance’s inaugural audience and discover the identity of the Klimt’s mysterious woman in gold.

Apri 26th, 7:30 p.m. Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA


Boston Spotlights

Boston Spotlights: February 2017

In Conversation: Artist Juan Roberto Diago with Curator Alejandro de la Fuente

courtesy of

As the McMullen welcomes the works of Cuban painter Rafael Soriano, across the Charles, the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery is presenting an exhibition on Contemporary Afro-Cuban artist Juan Roberto Diago. Kicking off their show–which runs from February 1st through May 5th–the gallery will be hosting a conversation led by the curator Alejandro de la Fuente. Diago’s works center on the roots of the social tensions that informed the artist’s Afro-Cuban experience.

February 3rd, 12:00 p.m. Ethelbert Cooper Gallery, 102 Mt. Auburn St. Cambridge, MA

Lunar New Year Celebration at the MFA

courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Lunar New Year may have been on January 28th, but the festivities aren’t over yet! The Museum of Fine Arts is offering visitors free admission on Saturday, February 4th to participate in their all-day celebration of the New Year. Working in collaboration with the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities in and around Boston, the event will include gallery tours, music, dance, and martial arts performances, and hands-on crafting activities.

February 4th, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. MFA, Boston, 465 Huntington Ave.

Saturday Open Studio: Bookbinding Basics

courtesy of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

If the McMullen’s last exhibition on Medieval Manuscripts has gotten you inspired, join the Isabella Stewart Gardner at their drop-in workshop for bookbinding basics. The event is open to the curious of all ages and is free with museum admission.

February 18th and 25th, 11:00 a.m. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way.









Boston Spotlights

Boston Spotlights: December 2016

Boston Spotlights is your monthly guide to citywide arts events curated by the Student Ambassadors.

Alice’s Table: Make Your Own Wreath

courtesy of

It’s the iconic door decoration of Christmas. And like your RA’s door decs, they’re better when they’re handmade. Alice’s Table is holding a two-hour long wreath building workshop to get you into the festive mood. All tools and materials are provided to help you make the perfect seasonal botanical creation.

November 30, 6 p.m. Back Bay Harry’s, 142 Berkeley St.

The 13th Annual SoWa Holiday Market

courtesy of

This month is notoriously busy, and it can be difficult to find time to actually do all those DIY Christmas gifts you saved on Pinterest. Luckily, this year the SOWA Holiday Market promises to feature New England’s best independent artists and crafters–so you’ll certainly find a lovingly handmade gift for everyone on your list. And, with such a wide array of clothing, jewelry, stationery, and knick-knacks for sale, you might even find an early present for yourself too.  

December 10, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. & December 11, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Benjamin Franklin Institute, 41 Berkeley St.

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights at the MFA

courtesy of

The MFA is celebrating Hanukkah with festive music, dance, and a “one-of-a kind, interactive virtual reality experience.” Visitors are also invited to make their own art and learn about the MFA’s collection of Judaica.

December 14, 5-10 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave.

Blue Heron: Christmas in 15th Century France and Burgundy

courtesy of the Boston Globe

Fitting right into our Medieval theme this semester, Blue Heron is hosting three concerts featuring Christmas music of the 15th Century. With Beyond Words  in mind, immerse yourself in the music of great French and Flemish composers. Between our illuminated manuscripts and Blue Heron’s concerts, it might just feel like spending Christmas in the Middle Ages. Not to mention the quiet mysticism of these works may be a welcome break from traditional Christmas carols.

December 14, 8 p.m. & December 17, 2:30 p.m., 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden St.

Urban Nutcracker

courtesy of the Boston Globe

What do you get when you mix Duke Ellington, Tchaikovsky, and 150 dancers? Tony WIlliams’ magical, modern Urban Nutcracker. This version of the beloved holiday tale takes you not on a journey through the land of sweets, but through Boston, showcasing landmarks like Top of the Hub, Chinatown, and the Public Gardens. And don’t come expecting to see tutus and pointe shoes–Williams’ dancers perform tap, flamenco, hip-hop, and more mixed in with the classical ballet choreography.

December 16-31, showtimes vary. Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley St.

BSA: Family Design Day with Gingerbread

courtesy of

Gingerbread houses may taste great, but shouldn’t they be structurally sound as well? The Boston Society of Architects is hosting two sessions of their annual course on gingerbread house design. After studying a number of professionally-made gingerbread constructions, students can use their newfound architectural knowledge to produce their own festive creations. Both children and adults are welcome. This year, your gingerbread houses may really be too good to eat.  

December 17, 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. Boston Society of Architects Space, 290 Congress St. Suite 200.