From Our News Desk: Is there a person alive who doesn’t love the Muppets? With a history that stretches from Elmo to Kermit and Miss Piggy, the unique puppet characters created by the late Jim Henson and his gifted artists continue to delight and inspire each new generation as it comes along. Think about the influence these stock characters have had on American culture. There is a lot of important history wrapped up in those bits of fuzzy fabric, contoured faces and manipulative devices.
That’s why it comes as great news that Images Cinema is one of six organizations in Massachusetts to receive a 2011 Challenge America Fast-Track grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The $10,000 grant was awarded to present Muppets™, Music & Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy, an international touring film retrospective of the work of Jim Henson, Monday, September 19 through Sunday, September 25 in Williamsstown, MA.
Update as of 9/13/11: In conjunction with the film screenings of Muppets™, Music & Magic (Monday, 9/19 through Sunday, 9/25), the Jim Henson retrospective at Images Cinema, there are a number of events with special guests, and opportunities to interact with them. For full details on the events and information about the special guests, visit imagescinema.org.
On Tuesday, 9/23 at 3:30pm Nick Raposo, son of Joe Raposo, the first music director of Sesame Street, will introduce the program SING! THE MUSIC OF SESAME STREET. Admission is $5. This screening, and all of the film screenings, will take place at Images Cinema, 50 Spring Street, MA.
On Wednesday, 9/21 at 3:30pm local puppet artist Dan Weissbrodt will lead a PUPPET-MAKING WORKSHOP for 6-12 year olds. The workshop is free, but registration is required. Children should bring a sock, which will be transformed into a puppet! To register, email email@example.com or call 413.458.1039. This workshop will take place at The Log, 78 Spring Street, just down the street from Images Cinema.
On Friday, 9/23, starting at 5pm, there will be a “COOKIES & COCKTAILS” reception at The Purple Pub, 65 Spring Street, Williamstown. Muppets-themed cookies, hors d’oeuvres will be provided; there will be a cash bar. This reception is included in the ticket price for the 7pm screening of Muppet History 101 with Kevin Clash, the performer of Sesame Street’s Elmo.
On Friday, 9/23 at 7pm, join us for MUPPET HISTORY 101. Muppet History 101 explores the origins of the Muppets and will be followed by a Q&A with Kevin Clash. Admission for Muppet History 101 is $15; $10 for members and kids.
On Saturday, 9/24 at 10am, there will be more fun with Elmo: a screening of THE ADVENTURES OF ELMO IN GROUCHLAND will be followed by a Q&A with Kevin Clash. Admission is $5.
Saturday, 9/24 would have been Jim Henson’s 75th birthday. Celebrate it with us on Saturday at 12pm. There will be pizza, cupcakes, and a conversation with Kevin Clash. Attendees will also receive a picture of Elmo, signed by both Elmo and Kevin Clash. Tickets are $15; $10 for members and kids.
Sunday, 9/25, at 2pm there will be a screening of THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER. Screenwriter Jay Tarses will conduct a Q&A via skype after the screening. Admission is $5.
Personal Appearances with Kevin Clash
The retrospective will feature Kevin Clash, the puppeteer and voice of Elmo, who will make appearances on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24. Clash (b. September 17, 1960) is an accomplished puppeteer whose characters include Elmo, Clifford and Hoots the Owl. He currently serves as Sesame Street Muppet Captain and co-executive producer. He was promoted to “senior creative advisor” at Sesame Workshop in May 2007.  The 2011 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey chronicles Clash’s life as a puppeteer.
Clash began building puppets at the age of ten. Clash’s parents were supportive of his interest in puppetry, driving him to puppet shows, allowing for his love of television and craft, and not urging him to attend college when he announced he was pursuing puppetry professionally. Among his television viewing were such series as Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, and H.R. Pufnstuf. Clash has admitted he watched television inches away from the screen, with no permanent eye damage. His parents were supposedly more amused than angered when he cut apart his father’s good overcoat to create a monkey puppet with the fuzzy black lining. As a tribute, Elmo’s parents were named George and Gladys in an Elmo’s World segment; their names have since been changed.
Hands On Workshops
The program will also include puppet-making workshops with local puppet artists, in-school residencies, feature film screenings, best-of compilations, and rarities. All screenings will take place at Images Cinema at 50 Spring Street, Williamstown, MA. The full schedule is available at www.imagescinema.org.
“We are ecstatic to receive our first grant from the NEA that recognizes the caliber of arts organization we have become and the strength of the programming we provide our region. I started watching Sesame Street over 40 years ago and Jim Henson’s creations continue to entertain and educate audiences of all ages. This film festival is for everyone–from Snuffleupagus lovers to Elmo devotees.” – Sandra Thomas, Executive Director of the 95 year old cinema.
MUPPETS, MUSIC & MAGIC – THE EVENT SCHEDULE
Monday, September 19
3:30pm: SESAME STREET AT 40: MILESTONES ON THE STREET
(For ages 3 and up. 81 minutes) This “best-of” compilation features
dozens of classic moments in the forty-year history of the show,
including excerpts from the first episode, celebrity guests, and some
of the best bits from Ernie and Bert, Big Bird, Snuffy, and the rest
of the gang.
Tuesday, September 20
10am: MUPPET FAIRYTALES (For ages 3 and up. 70 minutes) Admission: $5
The Frog Prince (1971) Directed by Jim Henson. What happens when you
kiss a frog? The Elves and the Shoemaker (1994) Directed by David
Grossman. What if the elves who come to the aid of the shoemaker are
3:30pm: JIM HENSON & FRIENDS: INSIDE THE SESAME STREET VAULT
(For ages 3 and up. 70 minutes) This super-entertaining program
highlights the contributions of Jim Henson and his early Sesame Street
collaborators Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Fran Brill and Caroll Spinney.
In addition to old favorites, there are some extremely rare clips from
specials and guest appearances on other television programs.
Wednesday, September 21
2pm: THE ART OF PUPPETRY AND STORYTELLING
(For ages 6 and up. 70 minutes) Go behind the scenes to witness the
magic of the Muppets in this compilation of rare footage of the wide
variety of puppetry created by Jim Henson. See a classic episode of
The Muppet Show (1979), directed by Philip Casson. A highlight of the
program: Harry Belafonte sings and African song with puppets derived
from traditional masks. Another kind of puppetry is used in The
Storyteller: The Heartless Giant (1989), directed by Jim Henson.
3:30pm: Puppetmaking workshop with Dan Weissbrodt
For ages 6-12; Participation is free but pre-registration is required.
Make a simple puppet and learn how puppetry translates to the screen!
Email or call Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413.458.1039 to
register! Register by Friday, September 16 at 5pm.
Thursday, September 22
4:30pm: COMMERCIALS & EXPERIMENTS
(For ages 13 and up; 60 minutes) A mind-blowing collection of shorts,
crazy commercials, and other rarities from the Henson vault.
Highlights include: an industrial film for Wilson’s Meat that must be
seen to be believed, excerpts from experimental TV programs The Cube
and Youth 68, and Time Piece, an 8-minute masterpiece that showcases
Henson’s talent for making music out of everyday sounds.
Friday, September 23
5pm: Cookies & Cocktails with Kevin Clash
A reception for kids and adults with Kevin Clash, puppeteer and voice
of Elmo. Ticket price and location TBD.
7pm: MUPPETS HISTORY 101, with Kevin Clash
Admission: $10 for members and kids; $15 general admission
(For ages 11 and up; 67 minutes) This unique program of rarities
examines the origins of the Muppets. Includes early live TV
appearances, unusual commercials, guest spots on the Jimmy Dean and
Dick Cavett Shows, and much more. Plus, this program contains excerpts
from the rarely seen pilot for what would become The Muppet Show, The
Muppets: Sex and Violence featuring a tribute to the Seven Deadly
Saturday, September 24
10am: THE ADVENTURES OF ELMO IN GROUCHLAND
Followed by Q&A with Kevin Clash
(For ages 4 and up. 73 minutes) Elmo loses his beloved fuzzy blanket
in far-off Grouchland. Nothing will deter him from retrieving his
treasured possession from the greedy Huxley, plunging him into a
series of adventures, including a battle of wits with the Queen of
Trash. His Sesame Street buddies come to the rescue and help him learn
a valuable lesson about sharing and friendship. Starring Kevin Clash,
Mandy Patinkin, Vanessa Williams.
12pm: Jim Henson Birthday Party & Conversation with Kevin Clash
If Jim Henson were still living, his 75th birthday would be on
Saturday, September 24. Celebrate his birthday with us, and have a
conversation with Kevin Clash, the puppeteer & voice of Elmo. Ticket
price and location TBD.
Sunday, September 25
2pm: THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER
Followed by Q&A with screenwriter Jay Tarses, via skype
(Rated G. 95 minutes) Intrepid reporters Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo go
to London to interview fashion designer Lady Holiday, whose jewels
have been stolen. When the thieves strike again and Miss Piggy is
accused of the crime, its Kermit and friends to the rescue. Memorable
eccentrics like John Cleese and Peter Falk join the fun, but the
scenes with Miss Piggy on a motorcycle steal the show. Starring Jim
Henson, Frank Oz, David Goelz, Charles Grodin, Diana Rigg, John
The Challenge America Fast-Track grant seeks two outcomes: public engagement with diverse and excellent art, and strengthening of communities through the arts. Images Cinema’s programming seeks to meet these priorities on an ongoing basis and for this program is partnering with schools, youth organizations and other community organizations to reach out to youth and families.
“It’s heartening that the Arts Endowment, in reviewing our first-ever NEA proposal, quickly understood what locals have known all along: Images Cinema not only shows terrific, important films, but builds community through a range of family and collaborative programs,” said former board member and grant consultant, Julie Mackaman.
In addition to funding from the NEA, Images Cinema has received a grant from The Fund for Williamstown, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, to support this program and help meet the matching funds requirement of the NEA grant.
Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation builds stronger communities and improves
the quality of life for all residents of our region. Each year, the foundation distributes
over $7 million through grants and scholarships, helping thousands of donors achieve
their philanthropic goals and hundreds of nonprofits carry on their good work. Berkshire
Taconic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity.
Muppets™, Music & Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy is produced by The Jim Henson Legacy and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Tour Executive Producer Irena Kovarova.
The only one of its kind in Berkshire County, Images Cinema is a year-round non-profit, member-supported community film house that presents a wide range of films that impact filmmaking and our culture. Images continuously seeks to entertain, educate and engage the community with quality programming, while maintaining its dedication to independent film and media. Images Cinema serves organic popcorn, real butter, locally-made baked goods, and naturally sweetened sodas, as well as traditional concessions fare. Images Cinema is supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. Check for up-to-date happenings at www.imagescinema.org
MUPPET, MUPPETS and the Muppets Characters are registered trademarks of The Muppets Studio, LLC. All rights reserved. © The Muppets Studio, LLC. Sesame Street ® and associated characters, trademarks and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. © 2011 Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. TM & © 2011 The Jim Henson Company. JIM HENSON’s mark & logo, characters and elements are trademarks of The Jim Henson Company. All rights reserved.