In 2004, Martina Plag saw a show at Mum Puppettheatre in Old City and decided to change the course of her life. A trained architect, she asked Mum artistic director Robert Smyth for a job, even if it paid nothing.
“I said, ‘Look, I know how to build things. Teach me your magic,'” explains Plag. “We developed a relationship where I built the puppets for them in exchange for learning.”
Now one of the regions premier puppetry artists, Plag is attempting to spread the art form through her “Puppet Manualfesto,” a recurring puppet slam featuring artists from all over the Northeast. The latest “Manualfesto” will hit the Walking Fish Theatre this weekend, promising acts in rapid-fire succession.
“Slams are a wonderful opportunity for both performers and audiences to see what they like,” says Plag. “There’s something different every five to 10 minutes, so people have the opportunity to be exposed to a vast variety of styles.”
“Manualfesto” received funding from the national Puppet Slam Network, effectively putting Philly’s slam on the map and providing Plag with a small, well deserved, infusion of resources. But, just because puppets are headlining the show, don’t expect a child-friendly production.
“People see the word puppet, and they assume it’s for children,” she says. “But when I say ‘adult puppetry,’ I don’t mean in the sense that it’s X-rated or anything. It’s for mature audiences — a way to encourage the puppeteers to explore subjects of gravity.”
If you go
Puppet Manualfesto’s Fall Showcase
Walking Fish Theatre
2509 Frankford Ave.
Saturday, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.