Even puppets need to have a raunchy time.
And they’ll have it today at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro when Jabberbox Puppet Theater presents its production of “Rumpus in Rome.”
RUMPUS IN ROME
Time: 8 p.m. today (10/5) and Saturday
Location: Carrboro ArtsCenter
Marianne Gingher, an English professor at UNC, and her friend of 38 years, Deborah Seabrooke, created Jabberbox in 2009.
It all began with their trip to Africa to visit Gingher’s son. On the plane ride, the friends amused themselves by creating the now-popular characters of Fuzzy and Beej.
“We wanted to write about that adventure and thought using puppets would be fun,” Gingher said.
While Gingher said she has always loved puppets and storytelling, it is Seabrooke who likes to act in plays.
“I used to put on plays in my basement as a little girl,” Seabrooke said.
The two had a lot to learn, Gingher said, so they went to the national Puppeteers of America Convention in Atlanta.
“We took some workshops and realized that the play we had written was not a puppet play,” Gingher said. “So we left depressed — but it taught us a lot.”
With the success of their first production in 2010 of “African Queens,” the duo has seen its fan base expand.
“I have to pinch myself,” Seabrooke said. “It’s very exciting.”
Their latest production, “Rumpus in Rome,” reintroduces fans to Fuzzy and Beej — this time in Rome. Fuzzy, the American ambassador to Rome, invites Beej to help plan a ball for Queen Elizabeth II during her Diamond Jubilee.
“We thought Rome would be fun because it’s sort of a city of love,” Gingher said.
“Essentially, everybody in this play is looking for love and having difficulty being with the person they love.”
Gingher and Seabrooke make the puppets using paper-mache and acrylic paint for the heads.
“We have great fun going to a fabric store and envisioning how we will dress them,” Gingher said.
She said Jabberbox shows are for adults — even touting some puppet nudity. Gingher said previous plays have not had as much puppet nudity as “Rumpus in Rome.”
“We’re trying to give adult audiences the opportunity to be frivolous and let their guard down and laugh at stupid stuff,” she said.
Jeri Lynn Schulke, stage director at The ArtsCenter, said she always enjoys the less conventional forms of art like Jabberbox shows.
“We don’t limit ourselves as far as theater is concerned,” she said. “We try to present a vast range of performance styles and opportunities not only for people performing, but for our community.”
Both women said puppetry can teach important lessons — while still entertaining.
“It’s about starting small and being small,” Seabrooke said.
“And there’s nothing wrong with being small. Small can turn out to be something very big.”
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