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February 03, 1989 - Image 97

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-03

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Pulling Strings

Bubatron has Jewish

kids, Jewish themes

and a professional
but homemade


Special to The Jewish News

Ten-year-old Esther Ahronheim, a member of Bubatron.

nn Arbor has no Great White
Way, no Broadway, but it is
home to more than a dozen
permanent theater groups
which present a wide range of
repetoire. The latest group to take
center stage is Bubatron, Ann Arbor's
first Jewish marionette theater.
Bubatron — the term comes from
the Hebrew buba which means pup-
pet or doll and tron which means
theater — is the brainchild of artist
Rickie Lauffer and playwright Rachel
Urist. Ron Kramer built the winged
stage which has received accolades
from all 'round for its utility and
bewitching effects.
But if it weren't for six youngsters
— Naomi Adiv, Esther Ahronheim,
Josh Donow, Steve Gordon, Stacy
Kalter and Daniela Morell —


Bubatron would be just an idea. The
presence of the children is what
makes Bubatron so special. "There
are a lot of puppet theaters," explains
Lauffer, "but none of them that I
know of have children at the center
of the performance."
Bubatron has already performed
live and on cable television; its next
appearance will be at the Perfor-
mance Network on Feb. 12 where it
will give two shows of its first feature-
length production. "Tales of Wit and
Wisdom" is an adaptation of Jewish
folktales and fables.
According to Urist, who wrote the
script, the stories range from works
by humorist Hershel Ostropelier to
those extolling the wisdom of
Solomon. Some little-known legends
are sprinkled in as well.

A Jewish marionette theater is an
idea whose time has come says Lauf-
fer. It fills several different needs at
once. "People have talked about hav-
ing a Jewish theater," she says. "Our
notion was to use Jewish folktales
that had universal appeal; that could
engage Jewish kids together, and give
them a new way of identifying. It's a
positive experience."

I could work my puppet well enough;'
says Esther Ahronheim, whose pup-
pet — outfitted in a blue and white
checkered dress and babushka —
played the oldest girl in the script.
Ten-year-old Stacy Kalter, who pull-
ed the strings on her baby marionette,
was also a little concerned. "I had
never been to a puppet theater," she
explains. "I was nervous:'

Bubatron's premier performance
got rave reviews. "It was obvious the
kids had put a lot of work into it," says
Sherry Roberts, youth librarian at the
Ann Arbor Public Library.
The children gave stellar perfor-
mances despite pre-performance jit-
ters. Although most had experience
with hand puppets, marionettes were
something else again. "I wasn't sure

Bubatron audiences have been
especially impressed by the two-and-
a-half-foot-tall puppets. "They were
very professional looking," says
Roberts, "and beautiful, too."Unlike
marionettes of old, which were often
made of terra cotta, wood, ivory and
even silver, these had much humbler
origins. Nevertheless, considerable
care went into creating them.



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