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Puppet Theater "Luna's Sea" Comes To Museum

Q&As

This Mother’s Day weekend, travel from the shores of Africa to the deep-sea habitats of bioluminescent creatures with a live puppet theater production that makes its New York premiere. Luna’s Sea tells the story of a girl named Luna on a magical journey through the world’s oceans using dance, puppetry, optical illusions, and black-light theater. Luna’s Sea will hold performances at the Museum on Saturday, May 12, and Sunday, May 13. The show’s creator, Linda Wingerter, recently shared the history of Luna’s Sea as well as some of the details about how the production’s spectacular puppets are made.

How did the idea for Luna’s Sea come about?

Linda Wingerter: I’m a children’s book illustrator by trade with a background in puppetry. Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium and the Cornerstone Playhouse in Mystic asked me if I would write, create, and build a stage show based on animals at the aquarium.

What kind of research did you conduct at the aquarium?

Wingerter: The aquarium gave us unlimited time to spend on site with our puppeteers to study the animals. We brought some of our in-progress puppets right to the tanks and had our puppeteers move them alongside the animals. My co-puppet-builder, Jen McClure, and I would then make adjustments.

Where do you find inspiration for materials used to make the puppets?

Wingerter: I was practically raised in my grandfather’s puppet theatre company and grew up watching him create elaborate carved marionettes. While I wasn’t allowed to use his machines and expensive materials, he always encouraged me to make puppets alongside him with child-friendly scraps. I learned that even professional shows can be made from humble materials, things you find in your basement, or in the woods, or in a dumpster. After kids see our show, we invite them to look at the puppets up close, and they discover that all these animals are actually mostly made of discarded and broken objects.

How do you go about constructing the puppets?

Wingerter: Lots of trial and error. For the octopus, we knew we wanted it to be our biggest puppet, and so it had to be very lightweight. I was stumped for a long time until I passed a garbage can with one of those Ikea hanging net shelves on top. Inspiration! Jen and I immediately went to work sewing together a dozen of those and threading them onto pipe insulation I had in my basement.

What message do you hope audience members take away from the production?

Wingerter: Much of Luna’s enthusiasm comes directly from my own experiences growing up, including the excitement of my first trip to the American Museum of Natural History when I was five years old. The world has so much beauty to offer. I hope everyone feels even just a little more connected to the immense life that abounds in our great oceans.

To purchase tickets to Luna’s Sea, click here.

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
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