On May 2nd, 2006, I performed Birthday Trauma, a segment from Growing Up Linda at the Judson Church in New York City as part of one of Great Small Works’ Spaghetti Dinners. Growing Up Linda was an ensemble actor-puppetry performance in which the daughter of a famous ice cream mogul must come to terms with her troubled past.
In Birthday Trauma, the inciting episode of Growing Up Linda, written with long-time collaborator, P.J. McWhiskers, Linda Carvel becomes enamored with Cookie Puss, an ice cream cake presented to her at her 5th birthday. After Linda makes a wish for eternal friendship with Cookie Puss (the only one in the world who understands her), Daddy Carvel strong-hands her into dismembering her new companion for the consumption of her blood-thirsty relatives.
In this iteration, Jen Swain performed in the role of Linda Carvel, while Peter Deffet performed Daddy Carvel. We were introduced by Emmy Bean, an associate member of Great Small Works who also curates their Temporary Toy Theater Museum.
Also in the line up were:
- Mrs. Hodges Was Struck by a Meteorite, designed by Michael Bodel with choreography by Lily Sko
- I Remember Now, We Never Danced, I Miss You, Goodbye, a film by Diane Bonder
- The Rag, a wayang xerox show by Jim Napolitano and Tim Lagasse
- New Films by New York City Youth curated by David Felix Sutcliffe
- Music by Michael Winograd’s Infection (Petr Cancura, Jessica Lurie, Michael Winograd, Brandon Seabrook, Jorge Roeder, Jon Signer, Jason Nazary)
Great Small Works is a collective of theater artists who reinvent ancient and popular theater techniques, producing outdoor spectacles with scores of participants, indoor miniature tabletop shows, variety cabarets with food and music, puppet parades and street pageants, all created with a wide circle of veteran associates and first-time volunteers. On any scale, Great Small Works productions aim to renew, cultivate and strengthen the spirits of their audiences by keeping theater at the heart of public life.
Since its creation, Great Small Works has been the producer of the Spaghetti Dinner Series, variety evenings of pasta, performance, and music. Founded by veterans of Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater and members of Ninth Street Theater in 1978, the Spaghetti Dinners began in a storefront on East Ninth Street as informal evenings for neighborhood residents and members of the downtown theater community, combining puppet theater, New Orleans brass band music, and healthy portions of spaghetti with fresh garlic. Today, the Spaghetti Dinner still works with the same formula – vegetarian spaghetti, new performances in all media (theater, puppetry, dance, film, spoken word, polemic,) and live music.