Last week we had the privilege of chatting with Irina Kohn, the amazing woman behind the Golden Fox Puppet Theater. Irina Kohn, a puppeteer from Russia and founder of Golden Fox Puppet Theater, moved here from Atlanta, Georgia, several years ago and has brought her passion and joy of puppetry to the children of Abu Dhabi for two seasons.
This is an interesting question; everyone asks me this question. I really can’t answer why or how. It just came to me one day that it would be nice for children to have a puppet theatre. I think maybe I chose puppets because, as a child, I always went to theatres or perhaps it is due to my teaching experience in the US. I was teaching English as a second language (ESL), and I noticed that children learn the language so much faster when they use puppets. When they shift their identity to the puppets, they are not afraid or shy. The barriers are gone. This inspired me. I thought, “Oh, it is probably easier to learn the language this way.” Then of course I did my research about puppetry and realized what an inspiring form of art it is.
What are the benefits of children participating in a puppet-making workshop? What can the children learn from this experience?
I think that the question should be what children can NOT learn from the puppet-making experience. Through puppetry, children learn everything to develop a character. They are involved in the plot of the story. They are involved in creating an artistic form of the story. They paint and design puppets, costumes and scenarios. They also work with musicians to select the music feeds. Whenever we introduce music, we discuss it with the puppeteers. We work from scratch, from the storyline to the final performance. I don’t think there is any activity better for children than puppetry.
How long is your puppetry workshop season?
Usually our sessions last for over two months. Of course this requires commitment and dedication. This is not a drop-by one-time thing. Children sign up for two months, and we meet twice a week for two hours each. The commitment is four hours per week, so for eight weeks it is a total of 32 hours a session. After the 8 weeks we start rehearsing where the actual performance will take place. Actually many children who joined us two years ago are still with us today. This is their third performance, and they are truly professionals now.
How is the Abu Dhabi Community Responding to the Golden Fox Puppet Theater?
Let’s start with the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF). Without ADMAF, we would have not been anywhere close to where we are now. They supported us from the very beginning. They even built us very wonderful professional stages. They are providing nothing but support and helped from the beginning. There were moments when I was ready to quit. I remember telling a colleague at ADMAF and she told me, “No, Irina, don’t quit: just go ahead.” I listened to her advice, and she was right. We were recently in the Ghaf Gallery participating in the “Toys and Treasures” exhibit, having an outstanding exposure. I would say the Abu Dhabi community welcomed some new talent into town.
How can our moms find out more about your workshops or participate in your upcoming season?
To find out more about the Golden Fox Puppet Theater please call me at 055-808-7050 or email me at email@example.com. Also don’t forget to visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/goldenfoxpuppettheater). You can get updates there and you could also message me through Facebook. As of now, we start our next season in the middle of September with a new production. Please call or email me and I will keep you posted. Children ages 10-15 are invited. There are no auditions.
What are the last words you’d like to give to our readers?
I agree with Einstein who said that if you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be even MORE intelligent, read them MORE fairy tales.