Papermoon Puppet Theatre is a group of young artists and performers using puppetry to speak about contemporary issues, specifically the tumultous 1960's in Indonesia, with their piece, Mwathirika. Click here for an excerpt. They arrived in the U.S. in September and charmed their way across the country for their Center Stage tour. As you will see in the following pictures, this youthful and happy group had a blast while performing in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Iowa, Rhode Island, and New York.

Starting in Washington, D.C., with a performance at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage (watch the performance here) the group took in all the sights of our nation's capital (with their puppets in tow!)

After their first stop in Easton, Pennsylvania at Lafayette College, Papermoon began their activities in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania with a workshop at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts.

Continuing their residency at Juniata College, the group received a Welcome Reception, ran a workshop with the Interpersonal Communications Class and Acting Class, and performed.

Chad Herzog, Director of Performing Arts at Juniata College said,

The company is terrific, their enthusiasm for life, culture, and America is infectious, and I am so pleased we were able to share them with our community. I'm not sure where the last four days have gone but I do know I would do it all over again tomorrow. They are becoming wonderful teachers and cultural diplomats... The performance is beautiful and I'm not sure I have ever experienced or witnessed an audience behave the way our audience did tonight with Papermoon... the performance ends and the audiences starts their applause, the puppeteers leave the stage and the audience falls quiet, no one moves, everyone stays in their seat, the puppeteers come back on stage and place the puppets, the audience starts to clap again, the puppeteers leave stage and the audience bursts into a standing ovation, the puppeteers return to the stage to be honored... really very special. Papermoon captured the hearts, minds, and souls of us tonight.

Continuing their outreach activities, the group stopped by local Juniata Valley High School.

But one of the biggest highlights of their time in Huntingdon was their buggy ride through Amish Country and visit to a local farm!

After continuing on in Pennsylvania at Bucknell University, they were off to the Midwest to the Great Plains Puppet Train Puppet Festival in West Liberty, Iowa. They performed in the festival, watched other puppet groups, conducted workshops, and even participated in an American tradition, a barn dance! They ended their time in Iowa with a dinner hosted at the home of our friend Jacob Yarrow, Programming Director at University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium. Jacob traveled on a Center Stage Advance Trip to Indonesia where he met Papermoon Puppet Theatre (and blogged about it here!) and went on to host another Center Stage ensemble, Ti-Coca & Wanga-Neges (who will be next in our "Look Back" series!)

At the barn!

Papermoon then headed to the East Coast where they finished up their tour. Stopping in NYC, the group was able to sight see in the big city and attending productions of Lion King and War Horse before heading to Providence, Rhode Island.

In Providence, they held workshops and took to the streets with their puppets during the FirstWorks Festival.

Above Photo Credits: Erin X. Smithers

Papermoon Puppet Theatre made such a special impact on those they came in contact with while in the U.S. and they went home with a new perspective as well. They had this to say about their experience:

"To have moved so many people's heart after we performed, to see the truth, sincerity, and love in their eyes and to know that our story and message was shared and delivered [was the most successful part of the tour]. This tour opened my eyes to so much, because this is my first time abroad, and to see lots of people outside my country going and surviving the same things as we do in our home gave me spirit, a positive one, and made me feel I am not alone. It's a precious feeling."

Papermoon just announced on their Facebook they are working on a new production, "about a little boy, sea, land, and a carousel...." Follow them to see what's next for this inspiring and talented group!

Next Up: Ti-Coca and Wanga Neges!


All photos courtesy of Sarah Sidman and NEFA unless otherwise noted.