Puppeteer brings make-believe to life

February 21, 1994|By Cindy Parr | Cindy Parr,Special to The Sun

Shirley Johannesen Levine will take her show, "Puppets and Poems: Colorful Characters Come Alive," to Sandymount Elementary School in Carroll County on Thursday.

Ms. Levine and her Puppet-Dance Productions shows incorporate music, mime and make-believe to bring puppets of all sorts and sizes to life.

The Columbia-based performer and educational consultant will perform at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

"I have been able to adapt the skills I have to literature," she says. "I feel that I have been able to take the puppets and make them fit with my earlier love of literature. I feel that I am passing that love onto the children through my shows."

Ms. Levine, who recently returned from a year of performances in Australia, England and France, will enlighten younger students with snappy word plays, nursery rhymes and poetry.

"There will be more music, more movement and marionettes for the younger children," said Ms. Levine, who features a puppet show of mice and sports a 7-foot dragon puppet.

Older students will see another version of her show, which will include poems by Langston Hughes and Lewis Carroll, and a poem about Harriet Tubman.

"I bring out a completely different set of puppets for the older children," Ms. Levine said. "Some students will even have an opportunity to get inside life-like-sized puppets similar to those used on Sesame Street."

A puppeteer since 1969, Ms. Levine has been taking her shows to students for 15 years.

Her career as a puppeteer has garnered recognition from arts programs, school systems and philanthropic organizations throughout the United States and abroad.

To assist in her efforts to bring her art into the school system, Ms. Levine's program has been partially financed in the Maryland and Washington areas by the Artists-in-Education Program of the Maryland State Arts Council, the Howard County Arts Council, the Montgomery County Arts Council's Outreach Program, the Anne Arundel County Commission on Culture and the Arts, the Talbot Academy of the Arts and the Maryland Very Special Arts Program.

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