The beloved book series makes a world premiere on the puppet stage
The Center for Puppetry Arts will introduce Harold and the Purple Crayon to the puppet stage, April 2-May 26. Based on five of the books from Crockett Johnson’s beloved series, the original production invites audiences to watch as a curious young boy discovers his power to create anything he can imagine, simply by drawing it with his oversized purple crayon. From enchanted gardens to the circus – even a wild ride to the moon – audiences will watch Harold create his fantastic world in real time on stage.
“We want whatever we put on stage to look exactly like it does in Crockett Johnson’s books – whether we’re in Harold’s room or on the moon,” says Resident Puppet Builder Jason Hines who, along with Artistic Director Jon Ludwig, has been working on this original production for over a year. “Combining a technique from the late 1800’s with new technologies has been a challenge, but it’s also been a lot of fun,” says Ludwig. “This combination of techniques allows audiences to actually see Harold draw his world and then step into it.”
Harold and the Purple Crayon features blacklight rod puppets and original music written by composer/actor/puppeteer Dolph Amick. The creative team also employs a 19th century illusory effect, termed “Peppers Ghost,” with the latest projection technology to create Harold’s drawings as onstage holograms.
In addition to meeting Harold, patrons can look forward to other delightful characters, including the Very Hungry Moose, the Deserving Porcupine, a circus clown and a space alien!
Continuing a collaborative tradition of working in and with schools to create new works (an initiative started in 2015), Ludwig and Center for Puppetry Arts Education Director Aretta Baumgartner began partnering with Atlanta Public Schools’ Burgess-Peterson Academy in fall 2018 to learn directly from students what they wanted to see in a stage adaptation of the Harold books. As a result, the production includes five stories: “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” “Harold’s Fairy Tale,” “Harold’s Trip to the Sky,” “Harold’s Circus” and “A Picture for Harold’s Room.”
As part of the Center’s sensory-friendly initiative for visitors with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a sensory-friendly programming day for Harold and the Purple Crayon will be presented on Sunday, April 14 from noon to 5 p.m. This special afternoon will allow guests with ASD to experience programming in a comfortable and safe setting with staff members who have been trained in interactions with patrons with ASD. Along with a quiet zone in the lobby, several performance alterations will be made, including: theater lights dimmed down (but not out); consistent sound levels and lower volume of show soundtrack; freedom for children to talk during the show and leave their seats, if necessary; and permission to bring quiet, contained snacks and beverages. Create-A-Puppet Workshop™ classrooms will be brighter, quieter and feature less-messy puppet building materials and slightly simplified puppet designs. In the Worlds of Puppetry Museum, lighting will be adjusted and specialized educational activities (such as touch tables and guided storytelling) will be integrated. Fidget toys and sound-reducing headphones will also be available.
The Center is also proud to announce that Harold and the Purple Crayon will be a featured performance at the TYA/USA (Theater for Young Audiences USA) Festival & Conference this May.
Recommended for ages four and up, Harold and the Purple Crayon will be presented in the Mainstage Theater, April 2 – May 26. Reduced-price previews take place Tuesday April 2 at 10 a.m. and noon. The regular show schedule is as follows:
Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. and noon
Saturday: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
April 9-May 26
Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.*
*There will be no shows on Sunday, April 21
All-inclusive ticket prices vary but start at $12.50 (members) and $25 (nonmembers) and include entrance to the Create-A Puppet Workshop™, where guests can make, decorate and perform with their own Purple Porcupine Rod Puppet, as well as admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum, featuring the largest collection of Jim Henson puppets in the world as well as a global gallery organized by continent with puppets from all over the globe. Tickets can be purchased online at puppet.org or by calling 404.873.3391.