There are many reasons why I am glad my kids were born, and one of them is that I got to know the work of Jim Henson. I am not ashamed to say how much I enjoyed Sesame Street. The Muppets were funny. I admit my kids never got into Fraggle Rock as much as I did, but we all loved the movie The Labyrinth and it is still one videotape that I keep.
Jim Henson never planned on being a puppeteer. He just was fascinated by television as a kid in the 50s and wanted to be involved. When he heard that the local station was searching for someone to stage a 5 minute puppet show before the news, he quickly grabbed a sock and Kermit was born. Started as a pale lizard, Kermit evolved into the green frog that is now recognized in over 70 countries around the world. He went on to develop new techniques in puppetry and presentation of the art.
One constant existed in all of Henson’s productions: the place depicted is populated by a variety of creatures who work out issues and get along. Sesame Street, for example, had humans, monsters, a bird, a grouch and more, all living in a neighborhood where people worked and lived and even died. We were shown how people and other creatures learned to deal with illness, moving, marriage, working though disabilities and so much more.
Atlanta has a one of a kind institution with the Center for Puppetry Arts. With the Henson Foundation initial help and continued support, this museum houses an amazing collection of international puppets as well as a special Henson exhibit. Housed in a former elementary school, there are spaces for classroom activities, birthday parties, and shows.