Wood and Strings Theatre will bring the rich folklore and toe-tapping tunes of the Appalachian Mountains to life with a puppet performance of “Backwoods Ramblin’” on Friday, April 11, for the Celebration of the Young Child at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.
The celebration, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., will be a tribute to Selma Shapiro, who led the museum for 32 years before her retirement at age 80 in 2004. She expanded the museum from a group of small exhibits established by Girl Scouts into a nationally recognized regional center of learning and play, and continued to volunteer at the museum until her death in 2011.
Wood and Strings Theatre’s marionettes play fiddles, smoke corn cob pipes, dance jigs, and sing mountain tunes as they take the audience to the front porch of storyteller Grandpa Will’s cabin. He spins tall tales based on “Jack Tales,” authentic Appalachian folk tales compiled by Richard Chase. Grandpa Will’s family, friends, and hound dog all join in the lively entertainment.
The puppet performance will be at 10 a.m. at the museum, which is at 461 West Outer Drive in Oak Ridge. Before and after the puppet show, children may create “make and take” crafts with the Florence Crittenton Agency, plant sunflowers in the garden, be “Kids in Motion” with the National Fitness Center, learn about fire safety from the Oak Ridge Fire Department, and experience healthy living as they taste healthy snacks presented by the Anderson County Health Department and Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge.
New to the event this year will be Child Abuse Prevention and Healthy Start programs. A garden of pinwheels, a symbol of child abuse prevention, will be created by young participants in the museum’s EnvironmentalLearningCenter and Gardens.
Storyteller Adele Roberts will lead more storytelling and puppet fun. Roberts has written a series of children’s books, starting with “The Adventures of Sammy the Skunk.” Her stories focus on teaching character values based on circumstances in which the animals find themselves.
Puppets will be part of the Pilot Club of Oak Ridge presentation of BrainMinders, a children’s safety program featuring puppets presenting stories about safety issues. The World of Trains, the Puppet Room, TVA Waterworks, Rainforest, Dollhouse, and other exhibits will be open.
Wood and Strings Theatre, a professional puppet troupe that is part of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Touring Arts Program, travels throughout the southeast and beyond to present a variety of productions. Clarissa Lega handcrafts the marionettes in fine detail, and Leon Fuller designs sets with stage, scenery, sound and lights that can be delivered to almost any location.
The marionette theater has performed at National Geographic Live! Family Series in Washington, DC, as well as the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and The Nashville Theatre.
Sponsors of the Celebration of the Young Child include the Pilot Club of Oak Ridge, Anderson County Health Department, Knoxville Area Model Railroaders, Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and Covenant Health, National Fitness Center, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, and Snappy Tomato Pizza.
The Celebration of the Young Child is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.
As part of a special Week of the Young Child celebrated in April across the country, the Children’s Museum is honoring young children and all those who make a difference in children’s lives with its special celebration. The Week of the Young Child, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, is April 6-12.
Admission is $5 per person, and scholarships are available upon request. For more information call Carroll Welch at the Children’s Museum, (865) 482-1074, extension 105. Also, see the Children’s Museum web site, www.childrensmuseumofoakridge.org.