Puppet Shows Return to Common After 16-year Absence

Charlotte Anne Dore of Rosalita’s Puppets and her creations.

This month marks the return of a unique tradition as Friends of the Public Garden brings puppet shows back to the Boston Common for the first time in 16 years.

“Puppet theatre is popular globally, and it’s great to bring it back to the Common after all these years,” said Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends group. “It’s one of those classic events that brings so much joy and is so simple.”

“Puppets on the Common” was hatched after Friends board member Wendy Franco Almquist found an 1883 newspaper illustration depicting a “Punch and Judy” puppet show on the Boston Common and suggested reviving the tradition, said Beatrice Nessen, chairperson of the Friends’ Common Committee.

The current program, which was underwritten by a grant from the M. Holt Massey Charitable Trust, brings master puppeteer Charlotte Anne Dore, founder and owner of Somerville-based Rosalita’s Puppets, to the Parkman Bandstand for performances of   “Rosalita and the Giant Bugs” on Aug. 18 and “Aesop’s Fables” on Aug. 25.

“Puppetry is an old tradition that has been around for centuries,” Dore said. “There’s something about puppets that transcends age, language and culture.”

As for past puppet shows on the Common, the Friends sponsored the last one in 1995. Prior to that, a puppet show hadn’t taken place on the Common since 1947, according to published reports.

Also, Nessen said the puppet shows would bring new activity to an often-underutilized part of the Common, which is located near the Boylston Street MBTA station and in close proximity to the tennis courts.

“Most of the time, the bandstand gets sporadic use,” Nessen said. “This is a great way to activate that part of the Common.”

Nessen added that she hopes to see “Puppets on the Common” continue past this month’s scheduled performances.

“It’s the perfect summer activity for kids,” Nessen said. “If it works, there will be more performances next year.”

Both performances begin at 2:30 p.n. and are free to the public. Guests are welcome to bring a blanket or a chair. All children must be accompanied by an adult. In the case of inclement weather, up to 30 children can be accommodated beneath the Parkman dome on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information on “Puppets on the Common,” contact the Friends of the Public Garden at 617-723-8144 or via e-mail at [email protected].

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