Puppet show will send message

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Trash Into Art will perform a puppet show at 10 a.m. Saturday in Witherill Park in Norway. The show will be full of eccentric people with help from a handful of kids and young adults. The show’s creator, Rijah Newell, is pictured with some of her gigantic puppets during the Earth Day celebration she organized last spring.

Puppet show will send message

NORWAY – A myriad of giant theatrical puppets will perform a puppet show of epic proportions with an environmental message for all ages at 10 a.m. Saturday in Witherill Park on Main Street, as a featured event in the Norway Summer Festival.

When people think puppets, they think of the kind that hang from strings or those made from stockings. Trash Into Art is not an ordinary puppet show. These puppets are huge and dynamic.

The creator of Trash Into Art, Rijah Newell of Oxford, designs and builds the giant papier-mache and fabric puppets with some found materials and a lot of roadside trash that she and her volunteers collect.

The show on Saturday will consist of four skits that combine comedy and music to spread awareness about the effects humans have on the environment.

“I have always been an environmentalist and I have a deep connection to the earth and our precious wildlife. I am tired of the degradation of our planet and have found that these enormous puppets have a profound effect on people,” said the Oxford Hills native of the effectiveness her puppets have in delivering their environmental message.

The tallest puppet is about 12 feet and is an interpretation of Mother Earth. A newly-constructed 16-foot dragon will be showcased in the festival show and will be shrouded in trash as part of the plot in one of the skits.

“I always incorporate collected garbage in my shows to inspire people to pick up their trash,” said Newell, who is also a Norway Summer Festival Committee member.

The development of Trash into Art began last fall as a way for Newell to express outrage about the amount of garbage she sees littering the roadside. The project was also a way for the artist, dancer and mother of three to fulfill a “Thoughtful Action” in her community to fulfill her degree requirements at a Vermont college.

“My inspiration comes from the Bread and Puppet Theater, based in Glover, Vt. Peter Schumann started his theater in the 1970s and has been a major political and social activist since. Bread and Puppet travels the world spreading their message using giant puppets and street theater,” she said.

For more information, contact Aranka Matolcsy, Norway Summer Festival coordinator, at 739-6161 or aranka@peoplepc.com. To view a video on the festival, go to www.myspace.com/downtownnorway and click on videos, or to download a version of the video and to get detailed schedule information visit www.downtownnorway.com.

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