CITY OF HAMBURGERS
Alphabet Arts’ puppet play is based on City of Hamburgers (Inkwater Press, 2008), a children’s book by author Mike Reiss and illustrator Xeth Feinberg. In City of Hamburgers, a German-born grandmother tells her US-born grandson a story about growing up as a “Hamburger,” marrying a “Frankfurter,” and later becoming an American. In the performance, five puppeteers utilized hand and rod puppetry and three to four musicians played live acoustic music. Our challenge was to create a puppet play for all ages that could make timely social issues such as acceptance of differences, multicultural diversity, immigration and “becoming American” accessible to young audiences while also modeling for families the importance of oral history and inter-generational storytelling. Such a performance seemed particularly important for children growing up in New York City. After dozens of volunteers spent months building the puppets, backdrops and stage, we debuted the play on a front porch in Flatbush/Lefferts Gardens during the Hawthorne Street Block Party in 2009. One of Alphabet Arts’ goals as an artist collective is to make the arts accessible to all, and thus we prioritize performing for free in under-served neighborhoods with large immigrant populations such as Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay.