If it’s summer in Saugerties, it’s time for an outdoor show of Arm-of-the-Sea Theater, that unique purveyor of ecological awareness delivered through an ensemble performance of contemporary mask and puppet theater with evocative music and outlandishly entertaining props.
The name of the group was inspired by the Hudson River Estuary, where fresh and salt waters meet and mix. Communicating Hudson River issues to broad public audiences was an early part of the group’s mission, but over time it has expanded its repertoire to address a number of ecological issues.
Arm-of-the-Sea Theater was founded more than 30 years ago by Marlena Marallo and Patrick Wadden as an experimental hybrid performance group combining art, ecology and social action. Because they wanted these performances to be easily accessible to all, the venues for the group have largely been in non-traditional spaces and at free outdoor festivals. The five-member company now tours to performing arts centers, festivals, community venues and schools throughout the Northeast and beyond. It also conducts community-based residencies and creates a popular annual summer event in Saugerties: the Esopus Creek Puppet Suite.
Arm-of-the-Sea Theater will give a free public performance of The City that Drinks the Mountain Sky on the front lawn of the Kiersted House in Saugerties on Saturday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m., sponsored by the Saugerties Public Library in cooperation with the Saugerties Historical Society. The City that Drinks the Mountain Sky chronicles the epic story of the struggles that have taken place over New York City’s ingenious system of aqueducts and reservoirs that provides clear mountain water from the Catskills to nine million downstate residents. Through poetry, puppetry and original music by Dean Jones, the hourlong performance brings alive the lyrical landscape of the Catskills to portray the ongoing story of the watershed and the uneasy marriage of those who must protect its vulnerable flowing treasure.
Additional free performances of The City that Drinks the Mountain Sky will be held on Sunday, July 28 at 4 p.m. at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, located at 2917 Sharon Turnpike (Route 44) – bring your own blankets and chairs – and on Saturday, August 3 in Claryville; visit www.sullivancountyswcd.com to confirm the time and location.
Arm-of-the-Sea will unveil its latest Esopus Creek Puppet Suite, A Bend in the Crick of Time: True Tall Tales from Old Saugerties at Saugerties’ Tina Chorvas Waterfront Park on August 23, 24 and 25. From August 10-25 the windows of the Imogen Holloway Gallery at 81 Partition Street in Saugerties will be filled with an installation of puppet characters and masked figures by Arm-of-the-Sea Theater’s artistic director Marlena Marallo. The exhibit coincides with the theater’s annual outdoor Esopus Creek Puppet Suite spectacle. A Bend in the Crick of Time: True Tall Tales from Old Saugerties was inspired by stories of local farming families, civil war draftees and draft dodgers, paper mill workers, a steamboat captain, a wandering poet, two sisters who served as lighthouse keepers, and the lively mortals from the Fishermen’s Rest social club. The Esopus Creek Puppet Suite runs August 23- 25 at the Tina Chorvas Waterfront Park. Visit https://armofthesea.org/current-offerings/esopus-creek-puppet-suite for more about the new production.