Sunday, September 17, 2006

Akron Reading Festival

The Akron Reading Festival is fast becoming my favorite local festival, because this is the one for readers! As I entered the Lock 3 grounds, a woman with five children surrounding her stopped to pick up a program of events. The volunteer at the table said, "All children get a free book!" The kids cheered and jumped up and down with anticipation!

All over the grounds, awnings and tents sprouted, covering a host of reading-related activities. Other local organizations brought displays of books, including the Akron Zoo, The Children's Ballet Theatre, Our Lady of the Elms and the Akron Art Museum. Akron Parks and Recreation had a large tent where children could make the most gorgeous hats built on a newspaper base. A whole lot of reading going on at the festival -- in author tents, on benches and in strollers.

Entertainment is also a part of the deal. Very odd stuff this year. I was fascinated to see a Bunraku-style puppet show only using Western Culture opera music and images. I quite liked the two monkeys watching the duet singers in this photo. Look close and you will see the operators completely garbed in black.

On the main stage, a different sort of puppets from a troupe based in Florida. These are oversized and more in the tradition of parade puppets, but put to use with a pre-recorded sound strack. The sizing choices didn't make sense to me. Why was Rip Van Winkle larger than all of them? His daughter was smaller than his faithful hound. I didn't stay for the entire performance.

I admired the dexterity with which the performers operated their puppets, however the musical adaptation along with the unappealing visuals of the puppets were not my cup of tea. They look like bad televison animation.

Here we see one young fellow totally absorbed by the performance.

I really enjoy going to events at Lock 3. The canal is always a pleasure to look upon and reflect over its history. The outdoor stage is simple and effective, while the Akron Civic Theatre proudly provides both backdrop and facilities for guest artists.

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