The summertime performances by Cal U students will be available via Facebook.
Members of Cal U's Puppet Brigade on a Zoom call.
The Cal U Puppet Brigade is aiming for a larger audience this year.
Created by students in Sabrina Hykes-Davis’ puppetry class, the Puppet Brigade will perform in four different shows on June 8, June 22, July 13 and July 27 that will be posted on the Cal U Theatre Facebook page.
Each unique show will include activities that can be downloaded and some behind-the-scenes extras of rehearsals.
Printed packets of the activities, funded by a grant from Cal U’s Faculty Professional Development Center, will be distributed through the Grab N Go Meals program in the California Area School District. Locations are Grace United Methodist Church, Coal Center, Pa.; California Area Municipal Building, Roscoe Volunteer Fire Co.; West Brownsville Volunteer Fire Co.; California Area High School; California and Bentleyville public libraries; and Daisytown Community Center.
It’s the third year for the summer Puppet Brigade, which normally performs in person but has switched to virtual shows this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because the shows will be available online, they will reach a wider audience and age group,” said Hykes-Davis, an assistant professor in Cal U’s Department of Music and Theatre. “Our goal is to distribute 500 packets, and hopefully more people with download and use them.
“I am glad we can do this in light of all of the activities and camps that have been cancelled due to the pandemic.”
Four Cal U students — Shauna Fahad, Cole McGlumphy, Bethanie Patterson, and Brendan Pavlick — rotate through the jobs of playwright, performer, puppet maker and set builder. Graduate assistant Regina Joslin created the packets and, along with Hykes-Davis, worked with the students.
Online and printed packets will have a storytime version of the puppet show, a coloring page and crayons, make-your-own puppet activities and other at-home crafts.
Joslin emphasized the importance of introducing children to the arts.
“Art can help children express their thoughts and emotions and can give parents an opportunity to bond with and instill important lessons upon them,” Joslin said.
“Being online allows the local audience to share our content with friends and family members who we would otherwise not be able to connect with, and we hope that our work can bring a little bit of fun and learning to families and into households near and far.”
For additional information on the Grab N Go Meals program, please email California Area School District food service director Matthew Triffanoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.