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pop-up puppet-gram
Photograph: Turner Blashford

Send your friends a ‘puppet-gram’ and tell them how you really feel

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is allowing Chicagoans to book these strings-attached messages for friends and family.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

You can text your friends, send them a postcard or show up on their doorstep for a socially-distanced hangout, but if you really want to tell them how much you care, you might want to say it with puppets. In July, the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival will begin booking "Pop-Up Puppet-Grams"—the marionette equivalent of a singing telegram, performed live (from at least 6 feet away) for its recipient.

Chicago puppeteer Mark Blashford is the artist behind the "puppet-grams," delivering a personalized five-minute performance on doorsteps, front yards, lobbies or porches. During the show, his puppet cowboy will paint a small picture which is given to the recipient as a keepsake. Naturally, Blashford will be wearing a face mask during his performances and maintaining social distance from his audience.

You can book a "puppet-gram" for $75 via the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival website, which is currently offering deliveries in Chicago and some suburbs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, beginning on July 7. The nonprofit organization has devised the program as a way to keep puppeteers working during a time when conventional performances aren't possible.

Try to imagine the look on your friends' faces when a puppet shows up at their door—after a few months stuck inside, a personalized marionette show sounds like a good way to combat the quarantine blues.

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