Before we begin, a question for the grownups:
How many of you still have a treasured stuffed animal from our childhoods, still hidden away in a plastic bin in the closet or in a cardboard box under the bed?
Unlike the myriad Legos and broken bits of other discarded toys, your tattered old Donut the Cat, ScruffyDog or Ratty or Horsie aren’t in any danger of being given away to a thrift store, are they? Of course not. They’re Real. They await your children or grandchildren, and, when the time is right, are given to those children. It’s then that we tell the tales of their past adventures again, because they are no longer toys- they are Real.
The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) was written in 1922 by Margery Williams. Most of you reading this had it read to you when you were little, and you will read it to your children in time. Through hardship and pain and love, a little boy’s toy rabbit becomes a real rabbit.
I first saw this production back in the early 1990s, when it was performed by its original builder and puppeteer, Terry Snyder. Terry’s company, Puppetfest Productions, built shows of extraordinary quality: for his Hans Christian Anderson, Terry received one of the highest honors accorded a puppeteer, the Citation of Excellence from UNIMA, the Union Internationale de la Marionette, founded in 1929 and one of the world’s oldest theatrical organizations.
This small story spoke to Terry: the idea that an inanimate object can receive such a gift, through love, is one that, as a puppeteer, touched him to the core.
As performers, musicians, and writers, most creative people will tell you that the wolf of time is always at the door: though one might live to be 100, one cannot do everything one wants to within that lifetime. There will always be too many songs to write, too many sets to design, too many dreams to dream and stories to tell. Something will always get left out. There is just not enough time to make enough of what we imagine Real.
THE VELVETEEN RABBIT
September 18 – October 18, 2015
Glen Echo Park
7300 MacArthur Blvd
Glen Echo, MD 20812
Fridays thru Sundays
Details and Tickets
Built in the mid 1980s, The Velveteen Rabbit is Terry’s dream child: he wrote the music, recorded it, built the beautiful puppets and exquisite set, directed it and designed it from top to bottom: his handprint is everywhere. Flowers bloom and unfold from the playboard, shutters snap shut with a click to become a bedroom, a little boy snuggles under a multicolored quilt, and a simple trellis becomes the rabbit’s Wide World outside.
Performed now by his former partner Christopher Hudert as part of Applause Unlimited’s guest artist series at The Puppet Co in Glen Echo Park, it is a wonderful and poignant show for children and the former children who are now their parents.
But for many of us who were Terry’s friends, it is a bittersweet show to watch right now. We hear Christopher speak, and behind him we hear the echo of Terry’s voice: “Think, Little Rabbit, everything changes- the seasons change- everything changes”…….. and the Rabbit becomes Real.
Puppeteer Terry Snyder of Richmond, Va, died September 7th after a long illness. We in the puppetry and theatre community mourn the loss of our good, gentle, and talented friend, and the loss of so many shows he wanted to build but never lived to complete.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Terry Snyder . Adapted from the original book by Margery Williams . Director: Terry Snyder . Featuring Christopher Hudert . Set, Puppets and Props: Terry Snyder . Lighting: Christopher Piper, The Puppet Co., Music: Terry Snyder . Costumes: Applause Unlimited . Produced by Applause Unlimited with The Puppet Co. . Reviewed by Jill Kyle-Keith.