GLEN ECHO – Officials at The Puppet Co. announced on Feb. 10 that its artistic and managerial staff would be retiring effective, ending a run that spanned over three decades.
Its leadership and puppet masters, Allan Stevens, Christopher and MayField Piper, worked with the company since the early 1980s, entertaining children and adults at Glen Echo Park.
“I’m 68, Allan is 77, and MayField is, well, a little younger than me,” said Christopher Piper. “Having accomplished our main mission, we all feel it is time to move away from the rigors of the profession while we can still go out on top.”
Founded in 1983, the Puppet Co. went from operating in one of the small distinctive “yurt” studios at Glen Echo Park to temporary quarters in its Spanish Ballroom to a full-fledged playhouse in the Art Deco-style arcade. It is next to the former shooting gallery from Glen Echo’s days as a vibrant amusement park.
“When we started, there was very little understanding of the full potential of what puppets could convey to audiences,” Christopher Piper said. “Our mission has always been to promote the art of puppetry, and today nearly every theater in the area utilizes puppets in some of their productions.”
One of the most notable aspects of the Puppet Co. has been its loyalty to the original fairy tales and stories in its productions. Over the next few months, this creative team is giving encore presentations of some of its most memorable productions, all based on literary and musical fairy tales: “Beauty and the Beast,” “Hansel and Gretel” and “Peter and the Wolf.”
“Peter and the Wolf” was the first production the Puppet Co. staged at Glen Echo Park. The organization’s leaders say that it will enthrall audiences once again with its marionette artistry as the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s tuneful fairy tale plays in the playhouse.
Officials confirm that the organization’s Board of Directors, which includes the trio, are developing a transition plan to have a smooth transition process in the summer. They plan to appoint an interim artistic director, who will run Puppet Co. starting on June 30.
Until then, children and adults have an opportunity to enjoy a full spring of performances by Montgomery County’s premier puppet troupe, including the current production of “Rapunzel.”
The Puppet Co. is a long-standing institution at the Park, and the art of puppetry is an important and vital piece of the programming available here,” Glen Echo Park Partnership Executive Director Katey Boerner said. “The Partnership Board and I will work to support a smooth transition to new leadership and ensure we continue to provide these performances to the public.”