Anne Sawyer-Aitch Shadow PuppetsPerformed at Open Eye Figure Theater in June 2011.

“Wry, emotionally intense, humorous… above all delicately presented.”
-Wayne Krefting, Henson Foundation Review

“Incredibly rich visuals, acting, & music.”
-Krista Post, Licensed Psychologist, Postpartum Support International, MN Co-coordinator

In October, 2010, Magic Lantern received an Arts Activity grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) to re-envision its original production, Children and Other Optical Illusions. Children and Other Optical Illusions is a multi-media puppet show, featuring shadow animation, a unique sound score, live-feed video, and puppets.

The new production will be at Open Eye Figure Theatre in South Minneapolis June 9-11, 2011, and will incorporate new visual layers such as 3-D shadow puppetry. MRAC panelists were especially pleased by Sawyer-Aitch’s request for funding to hire Arist Zaraawar Mistry to mentor her as a director as she re-visits the piece. Zaraawar Mistry is the owner of Dreamland Arts, where the first version of the show premiered in June of 2010.

Why do the show again?

Sawyer-Aitch’s goals for this production are not simply a “re-mount”. True, the re-staged version of Children will be performed by the original cast: award-winning puppeteer Janaki Ranpura, Jennifer Weaverling,Reid Knuttila and Patricia Gage. The original score will again be created and performed by visiting New York Artist Lisa Abbatomarco and Matt Larson. But by working with Mistry, Sawyer-Aitch hopes to deepen the work, both in content and presentation. Mistry’s style of mentorship is asking a series of questions. “Why is that visual there?” or “What does your gut tell you about why you are doing this show now?” “Sure, okay, 3-D shadow puppetry, but what are you trying to communicate viscerally here?”

About the script:

The piece explores the questioning and grief that two couples experience in their quest to become parents. The show was written by Anne Sawyer-Aitch, and is based in part on her own and others’ real experiences.
Optical illusions are often about missing information – what the eye is drawn to, instead of what it should be looking at – or a simple lack of available data. For couples struggling with unknown causes of infertility, this metaphor can be a very poignant one.

Children and Other Optical Illusions also depicts rituals and customs from around the world surrounding the topic of miscarriage. The script was born from the playwright’s own quest to become a mother, and is in part autobiographical. It is our hope that it can both entertain and raise awareness of a subject which is still somewhat “taboo” and misunderstood.

Because of its subject matter, this show is not recommended for children. This activity is made possible in part by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council through a grant from The McKnight Foundation and an appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature.

Additional sponsorship by Cryogenic Laboratories,

“Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc (CLI): with over 40 years of service, is the world’s oldest and most experienced sperm bank, offers extensively screened anonymous, ID Options donors, and storage services for sperm and embryos. We provide the highest quality in the industry as one of the few sperm banks fully accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Extensive donor Information is downloaded FREE for ALL sperm donors. Searching for a donor is fun, easy and free of charge. Most other sperm banks require you to pay for each donor information product you view. So look and listen for free 24/7. Childhood photos, donor essays, staff impressions, audio clips, medical and personal profiles are all free. Monthly specials are also there to make the process easier. We are the sperm bank where value meets quality.”

  • June 9-11, 2011
  • Open Eye Figure Theatre
    506 East 24th Street, Minneapolis
  • ASL Interpretation Friday, June 10 by Gretchen Toay
Jananki Ranpura

Jananki Ranpura plays Tink the Explorer in the show.

Lisa Abbatomarco and Matt Larson

Lisa Abbatomarco and Matt Larson created the soundscape for Children and Other Optical Illusions

Reid Knuttila and Patti Gage

Reid Knuttila with puppet George, and Patti Gage with puppet Hester

Jennifer Weaverling

Jennifer Weaverling stars as the protagonist Amy