The Founders,  Ingrid Cowan Hass and Ole Hass A few years ago we would have never thought that our experience in theater, storytelling, music and the visual arts would lead us to what is now Beech Tree Puppets LLC. We find that, when a puppet enters the stage, people can connect to the story directly. Puppets can break down barriers, cross cultural differences, and open people of all ages to new ideas and possibilities. You can talk about and teach almost any subject with a puppet! We are discovering that puppetry is a creative and expansive art form that engages and entertains, bringing a sense of wonder to a story or subject.  Storytelling and puppetry also enliven the use of language, giving it nuance and meaning. Our Background We both come from the world of the performing arts and hold Masters Degrees in Opera Performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts (Ole also holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from UMD in College Park). Since moving to the Washington DC area around the tide of the millennium, we have sung and acted with many of the great performing institutions in classical music around the area.  Ingrid has been teaching art and music classes for children of all ages for 17 years.  The arrival of our kids, Felix and Cecilia, brought more involvement in education and performing for children. We made some hand-knit puppets who became intricate members of the family, and we put on shows for friends, creating simple sets and writing original songs. Then our children went to Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten in Silver Spring, and we were inspired by the magical puppet shows done there. We were struck with the immediacy and beauty of the art form, but mostly how every person, of any age, was drawn in and taken to a special place.  Shortly after that, Beech Tree Puppets was founded on a fine morning in spring of 2012. The Making of Beech Tree Puppets We found that we had much personal and artistic experience to bring to the development and performance of our shows. The writing of the shows is a very collaborative process, with each of us taking turns finding sources, writing and editing scripts, as well as composing or adapting songs. As for building the puppets and sets, crafting by hand runs deep in both our families. Ingrid’s mother is a professional needle work artist, her father turns wood; her grandfather was a master tailor. Ingrid is also a visual artist (check out her website, www.IngridCowanHass.com), and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from Smith College. Ole’s father was a boat builder and carpenter, and his wider family includes a wood carver, a baker, and many plumbers. Ole cut much of the wood for our shows from downed trees, with a chainsaw mill. In fact, he was harvesting wood from a fallen grandfather Beech Tree (someone told us it was one of the largest Beech in PG County) when we were working on our first show, The Crystal Ball.  Our main puppet stage, as well as the sets, which include a beech tree, were all made from a single branch of that tree. What’s in a Name Walking through a beech forest is like being in a Gothic cathedral. The trunks are tall, the bark looks smooth and silvery, and the branches reach up and out like human arms. Likewise, on a visit to Chartres cathedral in France, we clearly felt that here was a space meant to uplift the human being. In that spirit, we want Beech Tree Puppets to create such a space. History of Beech Tree Puppets Our first show, The Crystal Ball, was inaugurated with seven performances at the Greenbelt Elementary School in May of 2013, reaching all of the more than 600 students. It was financed partly by a grant from the Greenbelt Advisory Committee on Education (ACE). We heard then (and still do) from parents and teachers that they had never seen their kids sit so still as when they were watching one of our shows. We believe this is because our shows leave room, in fact they create room, for every audience member’s inner contribution.  Since then, Beech Tree Puppets has produced four shows (a fifth is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015) and given over 80 performances of The Crystal Ball, The Giant Turnip, The Hollow Stump, and Butterfly Wonder in schools, libraries and public spaces, including  Greenbelt, Spring Hill Lake and Magnolia Elementary schools. They were funded with the help of grants from the PGAHC and Greenbelt ACE (Advisory Committee on Education), and invitations from the College Park Arts Exchange, Greenbelt Artful Afternoons, and the New Deal Café, funded by Friends of the New Deal Café Arts. As of January 2015, Beech Tree Puppets operates as a Limited Liability Company. We are in the middle of a two year residency at Greenbelt Elementary School, bringing shows and hands-on puppets workshops to all grades, thereby enhancing the curriculum.
The Founders,  Ingrid Cowan Hass and Ole Hass A few years ago we would have never thought that our experience in theater, storytelling, music and the visual arts would lead us to what is now Beech Tree Puppets LLC. We find that, when a puppet enters the stage, people can connect to the story directly. Puppets can break down barriers, cross cultural differences, and open people of all ages to new ideas and possibilities. You can talk about and teach almost any subject with a puppet! We are discovering that puppetry is a creative and expansive art form that engages and entertains, bringing a sense of wonder to a story or subject.  Storytelling and puppetry also enliven the use of language, giving it nuance and meaning. Our Background We both come from the world of the performing arts and hold Masters Degrees in Opera Performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts (Ole also holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from UMD in College Park). Since moving to the Washington DC area around the tide of the millennium, we have sung and acted with many of the great performing institutions in classical music around the area.  Ingrid has been teaching art and music classes for children of all ages for 17 years.  The arrival of our kids, Felix and Cecilia, brought more involvement in education and performing for children. We made some hand-knit puppets who became intricate members of the family, and we put on shows for friends, creating simple sets and writing original songs. Then our children went to Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten in Silver Spring, and we were inspired by the magical puppet shows done there. We were struck with the immediacy and beauty of the art form, but mostly how every person, of any age, was drawn in and taken to a special place.  Shortly after that, Beech Tree Puppets was founded on a fine morning in spring of 2012. The Making of Beech Tree Puppets We found that we had much personal and artistic experience to bring to the development and performance of our shows. The writing of the shows is a very collaborative process, with each of us taking turns finding sources, writing and editing scripts, as well as composing or adapting songs. As for building the puppets and sets, crafting by hand runs deep in both our families. Ingrid’s mother is a professional needle work artist, her father turns wood; her grandfather was a master tailor. Ingrid is also a visual artist (check out her website, www.IngridCowanHass.com), and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from Smith College. Ole’s father was a boat builder and carpenter, and his wider family includes a wood carver, a baker, and many plumbers. Ole cut much of the wood for our shows from downed trees, with a chainsaw mill. In fact, he was harvesting wood from a fallen grandfather Beech Tree (someone told us it was one of the largest Beech in PG County) when we were working on our first show, The Crystal Ball.  Our main puppet stage, as well as the sets, which include a beech tree, were all made from a single branch of that tree. What’s in a Name Walking through a beech forest is like being in a Gothic cathedral. The trunks are tall, the bark looks smooth and silvery, and the branches reach up and out like human arms. Likewise, on a visit to Chartres cathedral in France, we clearly felt that here was a space meant to uplift the human being. In that spirit, we want Beech Tree Puppets to create such a space. History of Beech Tree Puppets Our first show, The Crystal Ball, was inaugurated with seven performances at the Greenbelt Elementary School in May of 2013, reaching all of the more than 600 students. It was financed partly by a grant from the Greenbelt Advisory Committee on Education (ACE). We heard then (and still do) from parents and teachers that they had never seen their kids sit so still as when they were watching one of our shows. We believe this is because our shows leave room, in fact they create room, for every audience member’s inner contribution.  Since then, Beech Tree Puppets has produced four shows (a fifth is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015) and given over 80 performances of The Crystal Ball, The Giant Turnip, The Hollow Stump, and Butterfly Wonder in schools, libraries and public spaces, including  Greenbelt, Spring Hill Lake and Magnolia Elementary schools. They were funded with the help of grants from the PGAHC and Greenbelt ACE (Advisory Committee on Education), and invitations from the College Park Arts Exchange, Greenbelt Artful Afternoons, and the New Deal Café, funded by Friends of the New Deal Café Arts. As of January 2015, Beech Tree Puppets operates as a Limited Liability Company. We are in the middle of a two year residency at Greenbelt Elementary School, bringing shows and hands-on puppets workshops to all grades, thereby enhancing the curriculum.