Spotlight: Penn’s Woods Puppet Theater

Deedie Gustavson was part of the creation of Penn’s Woods from day one.

We met at historic Graeme Park in 2010, the year of its inception. It was made possible thanks to a grant from Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Our collaboration was to create a teaching tool for student field trips to the site.] Each of us contributed unique talents; one of Deedie’s was that of playwright. 

I had started Love Sails to London, a script that supported the guided tour of the Keith House…there were problems.

Deedie stepped in, tied it together and gave it a great ending: the lead puppet tears up Elizabeth Graeme’s love letters and tosses them into the audience.

At its first performance kids ran to the stage to piece them together hoping to see what her romance with William Franklin was all about.

This had to be shared with the public. Horsham Day, June 4th, 2011 was it.

Next was the encampment at Moland House that August.

Soon after, Deedie enthusiastically started writing history plays: a Rev War spy story, The Walls Have Ears; the biography of a young Ben Franklin, B. Franklin, Printer; the salvation in Bucks County of a runaway slave, Follow the Drinking Gourd.

But the crowning piece was A Son of Liberty. It follows the Marquis de Lafayette from birth to his first meeting with General Washington.

The play is noted by Sarah Vowell in her 2015 book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (page 119). Our little theater was off and running.

For more information, call Susan Tafel at 215-441-4154, or visit our Youtube channel, @PennsWoodsPuppets.

PHOTO CAP: Deedie Gustavson, Playwright

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