“New Squid on the Block” is a 45-minute puppet show performed by two puppeteers with one technical support person. Audience members watch the performance, see the characters come to life, and listen to the musical elements as they become immersed in a visual journey that takes them to Antarctica.
The show is fully scored with music composed by Ned Haskins. With its themes of curiosity and friendship, the story is “told” visually — there are no words, making this an incredibly accessible program for speakers of any language and for neurodivergent audiences. The main characters include a curious squid and a penguin family. Supporting characters are comprised of an Orca, jellyfish, fish, a submarine, and other sea creatures. The puppeteers also take part in this show to support the themes of friendship and cooperation. The show begins with Heidi and Nicole (the puppeteers) preparing for a journey — but first they must overcome the dilemma of which person gets to choose the destination. Children are fully engaged by the relatable nature of the conflict (Who gets their way? Who gets to choose?) and how it comes to life through pantomime, movement, and nonverbal communication set to music that reinforces the actions. This theme of conflict resolution is carried on throughout the show as the puppeteers journey by submarine to Antarctica, bringing to life the delightful cast of characters. The set transforms several times from a stack of wooden boxes into an underwater scene and then eventually into an ice shelf in Antarctica.
Post-audience conversations have revealed that children find this show both accessible and magical. They are intrigued by the changing set pieces and clearly see how THEY could also step into a world of story. Children have shared what they imagine the main characters might do next on a continuing adventure.
Barefoot Puppet Theatre has been touring performances, presenting workshops, and participating in residencies since 1997. The company has toured throughout the country (and beyond!) sharing puppetry with numerous schools and libraries as well as renown venues such as The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Puppet Showplace Theater in Boston, The Smithsonian Discovery Theatre, and The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Performances feature beautifully handcrafted puppets in a variety of styles, original music, creative scripting, and clear communication. Our puppetry artists have experience adapting works as sensory-friendly shows, working with neurodivergent audiences, and working with visually impaired students prior to programs. In 2005, Barefoot Puppet Theatre received an UNIMA-Citation of Excellence, the highest American award for puppetry, for their original work, “Galapagos George.”