The holidays are a great time to introduce your children to the arts, with lots of opportunities to see dance and theatrical productions, such as The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol. While these shows are lovely and enriching, there’s also a unique company on the East End that specializes in entertainment specifically geared toward younger kids. Goat on a Boat Puppet Theater in Sag Harbor is one of only 50 puppet theaters in the country, and founder Liz Joyce maintains a robust slate of programming year-round.
Through the end of the year, Goat on a Boat will present holiday-themed puppet shows from puppeteers and companies near and far. “It’s a fun way to get through the winter,” says Joyce. “It’s an intimate space that’s a great way to introduce kids to theater, which they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.”
Jim Napolitano and his company, Nappy’s Puppets, will bring How Santa Got His Job to Goat on a Boat on December 20 and 21. “Jim is a big favorite. He does shadow puppets, which are so funny. He’s always a hit with the kids,” says Joyce. The show tells the story of a young Santa, who can’t seem to find a good job. After trying everything from chimney sweep to circus performer, Santa meets a group of elves who help him find his dream job.
On December 27, Portland, Oregon-based Puppetkabob will present The Snowflake Man, inspired by the story of Wilson Bentley, the self-educated farmer and scientist who became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal. The show, which uses miniature marionettes, won a prestigious UNIMA-USA (International Puppetry Association) award.
Liz Hara and Marta Mozelle will perform Help Save Monkey, about a little boy and an old woman who rush to save a monkey who’s about to land on Earth from space, on January 3. The winner of a 2014 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant, Help Save Monkey uses unique staging and audience participation. “It’s a style of table-top puppetry,” Joyce says. “It’s based on bunraku, a form of Japanese puppet theater. You see the puppeteers throughout the show, and they actually wear NASA space suits, and there’s a helium balloon and ship that fly through.”
While Goat on a Boat caters to young children— shows are appropriate for all children from around 3 and up—Joyce has come across slightly older kids who become very interested in puppetry because of the shows. “By 8 years old, the kids are usually moving on, but there are some 10-year-olds who love it and love seeing the shows.” Joyce is also planning a teen/adolescent program with the Sag Harbor Youth Committee. “The middle school age group is in need of fun programming,” Joyce notes. In January, classes and workshops for kids will be offered (dates and times will be added to the Goat on a Boat website as they’re scheduled). Goat on a Boat also offers gift certificates, which Joyce believes are a great way to introduce people to the theater. “I find that people who get gift certificates always say that they wanted to come but never made it out here, and with the gift certificate they have a reason.”
Goat on a Boat Puppet Theater is located at 4 East Union Street, Sag Harbor. For tickets, gift certificates and more information, call 631-725-4193 or go to goatonaboat.org.