I am interested in collaborative work.
We consider it a great honor to lead youth and adults into exploring the world around them through the arts. Z Puppets is known for transforming complex concepts into fun, meaningful arts experiences focused on 4 main initiatives: • Arts and Mindfulness ª STEAM of Puppetry • Arts for All Abilities and • Cherokee Language Revitalization (Chris is an enrolled Cherokee tribal member). Collaboration is at the heart of our work, especially in our explorations of Jewish themes and stories. After several collaborations with klezmer musicians and storytellers about the folktales of Chelm, the SABES Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis commissioned Shari to write a stage adaptation of the beloved children's book "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins." This script has been produced four times by Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (with Chris' puppetry design winning an award of excellence from the IVEY awards for Twin City theater) and multiple times by theater companies and youth groups across the U.S., including last year's virtual streaming by Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre in AZ. "Through the Narrows," developed with funds from Rimon Jewish Arts Council and Brin Jewish Arts Endowment, and recipient of a Jim Henson Foundation Grant, intertwines the story of a 3500-year old Jewish woman's memory of crossing of the Red Sea with a story of 6 year old Cherokee boy bearing witness to the Trail of Tears. This enchanting tale of how to find the next forward through life's narrow passages features music by global music virtuoso Greg Herriges. "Through the Narrows" is available live and virtually (as an audio drama with images). In 2022, Z Puppets will premiere their collaboration with the Bakken Trio chamber ensemble "From the Monkey Mountains," a concert of music and puppetry by Czech composer Pavel Haas. Z Puppets also created a toy theater story of the life, music and death of Pavel Haas (he was killed in the Holocaust), which they have performed live and is also available on video.
Led by co-founders and creative directors Shari Aronson and Chris Griffith, Z Puppets has earned honors and support from the Jim Henson Foundation, Puppeteers of America, Parents' Choice, Ordway Center for Performing Arts and Network of Ensemble Theaters, Jerome and McKnight Foundations. They tour nationally to performing arts centers, museum and festivals, including the Flint Hills International Children's Festival, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, National Puppetry Festivals, Walker Arts Center, Milwaukee Art Museum and MN State Fair.
Behold! The Power of Playfulness.
As arts integration specialists, Shari and Chris lead professional development and coaching sessions for educators, helping teachers develop creative approaches to engaging students in curriculum content.
Z Puppets has provided innovative arts learning experiences for Educational Theatre Association, Perpich Center for Arts Education, Playful Learning Lab of St. Thomas University and hundreds of public schools, libraries and community settings. The Ordway Performing Arts Center Sally Award for Arts Education.
Additionally, Shari and Chris have written, designed and developed multimedia experiences and interactive environments for MN History Center, Mill City Museum, MN Children's Museum and Science Museum of MN.