Does anyone miss Mum Puppettheatre?

R.I.P., Mum Puppettheatre

2 minute read
'Adventures of a Boy and His Dog in Ye Olde Philadelphia': Mum's final cancelled show.
'Adventures of a Boy and His Dog in Ye Olde Philadelphia': Mum's final cancelled show.
Every society, civilized and primitive, has sacred spaces— spaces that serve as meeting places, where the laws and customs are laid down and explained, and where ideas are exchanged. They are the spaces where one generation teaches another about values, heroes, shame, identity and boundaries. The places for religion and for memorial sites are obvious models of sacred spaces and are accorded deep respect: No one plays basketball in a church or sprays graffiti on the Vietnam Memorial. And from the Vatican to a Revivalist tent, religious places are used for rituals: beginnings and endings, coming of age ceremonies and the blessing of marriages, no to mention the shunning of those who don’t conform.

Theaters, too, are sacred spaces. Along with democracy, they’re part of our cultural heritage from Ancient Greece along. Theaters enable public discourse and explorations of new points of view; they’re places where the public will gather for a collective experience. They’re important both to our cultural life and to the health of our democratic society.

Philadelphia lost a sacred space in May when Mum Puppettheatre suddenly shuttered its doors after 23 years in operation. This world-class performance group and training ground for future puppet masters uniquely used puppets and masked actors interchangeably to create movement-based theater, often without words. It was a unique training ground for future puppet masters. Yet for all Mum’s unique creativity and intelligence, it just ceased to exist— and, sadly, not many people seem to have noticed.

Nothing lasts forever, of course, and most theater troupes would be delighted with a 23-year run. Still, what does it say about Philadelphia’s supposedly vibrant theater scene that such a jewel of our cultural treasury could vanish with hardly a whimper?♦

To read responses, click here and here and here and here.

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