City Week

Year of the Horse, in Puppet Form

Silken Thread

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4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, and Sunday, Feb. 2

Puppets Amongus Playhouse

657 W. St. Mary's Road

444-5538;puppetsamongus.com

There will be no shortage of ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year as we welcome in the Year of the Horse this week. But for a truly unique experience, why not involve puppets?

Local puppeteer Matt Cotten, the driving force behind Puppets Amongus, is commemorating the occasion with his performance of Silken Thread, a show that tells the story of how silk was discovered when a Chinese empress found a cocoon in her teacup.

"I think it's my best show, honestly, just because I've been running it for quite some time," said Cotten, who first performed Silken Thread for the Chinese New Year two years ago.

Puppets Amongus was formed four years ago, with most performances occurring in local libraries. Cotten acquired a permanent space about two years ago. The facility is large enough to hold a small audience as well as his stage setup, which includes room for live musicians.

Cotten uses mostly hand puppets (or glove puppets, as is really the case), but for Silken Thread a Muppets-style dragon will be part of the performance as well as a special shadow puppet show to honor the Year of the Horse.

A puppeteer for 15 years, Cotten said he loves the work because it allows him to feed his need to be as artistic as possible.

"Puppetry allows me to be an everything artist," he said. "All the arts are involved. I get to write, I get to perform songs, I get to sculpt. I'm like a one-person theater company."

Tickets for Silken Thread, which also will be performed Feb. 8 and 9, are $8 for teens and adults and $6 for children. There's a $1 discount if you walk or ride a bike to the show.

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