Inventing Trees Pop-Up Puppetry Theater and Mobile Makers Lab
Inventing Trees Popup Puppetry Theater and Mobile Makers’ Lab is the puppet troupe, Inventing Trees attempt to bring more puppetry into community spaces that might not have access to art instruction.
In 2012, Inventing Trees co-founder, Bridget McAlonan started the “Feminist Paper Doll Project,” which sought to destigmatize and globalize feminism. These paper dolls were simple tools that people could use to make self-portraits, images of their heroes or loved ones, and use as a proxy to tell stories about what was important to them. McAlonan facilitated several workshops focusing on the paper dolls to community groups. Because construction of the paper dolls was relatively simple and utilized easily acquired materials, workshop participants of all ages and skill levels quickly became engaged in making. While making is happening, participants also talk about both their stories pertaining the paper dolls as well as sharing knowledge about how to construct them.
The paper dolls are at their basic core puppets (both simple rod puppet as well as shadow puppets.) The dual nature of the paper dolls allows makers to push play and storytelling to new levels. And because they can be made with simple scraps of cardboard, they are accessible. They allow the makers to play more freely with concepts (perhaps because they are not made from precious materials). They are democratic and engaging. They are a way to pull community together.
Inventing Trees is the performing and visual arts puppetry troupe pedaling stuff that used to live inside the dreamworld as described by a bunch of (mostly) introverts that make up stories on the edge of the works and sheepishly bring them out to play. They have won several awards including winner of the 2022 Critic’s Choice Award at PortFringe 2022 and the Mayo Street Arts’ Mission Award in 2023.
Member Bridget McAlonan (they/them) has years of teaching experience and has worked with at risk youth throughout Maine as well as Seattle. Member Leonid Eichfeld is currently working on his teaching certification in elementary education. He has a passion for integrating ecology and science education into the arts. Member Vivianne Courant has a passion for robotics and engineering as well as infusing climate science into art and art education. Member Timothy Eichfeld makes sure props and sets won’t fall on performers or audience members.
Cover image: Bridget McAlonan, puppet template