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