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Puppet workshops coming to NY Mills

This year's puppet theater workshops will be held from Monday, August 1 to Friday, August 12 at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

This is the fourth year of the homegrown theater event. The cultural center is seeking children and adults to participate in the annual large-scale puppet theater extravaganza with a story drawn from the Finnish national epic poem, the Kalevala. The performance of the puppet show will be at this year's Corn Feed festival in NY Mills on Friday, August 12.

The artistic director of the puppet workshops is Anne Sawyer-Aitch, formerly of Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater. New to the theater this year is the introduction of stilt walking as a part of the pageant.

Sawyer-Aitch was instrumental in introducing stilts to the annual Solstice Puppet Pageant held each June in Grand Marais, Minn. Music directors for the theatre are Curtis & Loretta, a Twin Cities-based musical duo.

Currently, Sawyer-Aitch is a Minnesota State Arts Board Roster Artist and Puppeteer-At-Large. She creates her own shows under the name Magic Lantern Puppet Theatre. Under this banner, she has built four full-length color shadow shows, receiving funding from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and a private foundation for her work.

Sawyer-Aitch belongs to the Twin Cities Puppeteers Guild and to the all-women's stilting group, Chicks on Sticks. She wrote, produced and directed her fifth play, Children and Other Optical Illusions, at Dreamland Arts in St. Paul, Minn., in June 2010.

Sawyer-Aitch has also worked with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, Barebones Productions, Three Legged Race, Steppingstone Theatre, Artstart, Galumph Interactive Theatre, Gustavus Adolphus College and Open Eye Figure Theatre.

In addition to Metropolitan Regional Arts Council grants, Sawyer-Aitch has received the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, the Puppeteers of America Endowment Grant, the Center for Arts Criticism grant and the Jerome Foundation Travel/Study Award.

The puppet workshops and theater are funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and by the NY Mills Civic and Commerce Association.

Call 218-385-3339 for more information and to register for the Puppet Theater Workshops.