Boneshaker Books hosts 'Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army'


When the going gets tough, the tough make puppets--or so the saying goes. And thus, you may enjoy stopping by Boneshaker Books this Friday for a production of two puppet shows by the Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army (MRPA), a troupe that has been touring this summer across the country using puppets to outline issues on social justice. The two plays they'll perform on Friday include a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, and a play that takes on the prison industrial complex.


MRPA is based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and primarily does performances based on social commentary, according to co-founder Ichabod Yo, who formed the group with Michael Snacks in 2009 as a way to raise money for their friend's legal defense fund. 

Since then, the troupe has gone on to produce nine shows and three different tours, raising money for the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective. The anti-prison group sends hundreds of books to prisoners in the South each month, maintains an extensive radical 'zine catalog, distributes a monthly poster promoting political prisoner support, and publishes prisoners' art and writing. 
Since the start, the troupe has also added puppeteers. The show on Friday includes performers Roxy and Maybe.

Yo says that his background is in activism, not theater or visual art. His puppet skills are entirely self-trained. "I went to the library and got a bunch of books, and learned that way," he says. Their first shows used rod puppetry, but their most recent play employs shadow puppetry in order to tell a more intricate story. 

Donny Don't is their most popular play so far, and they have performed the piece over 125 times. The Donny Don't character is a naïve teenager who learns over the course of the play how to stay out of jail. 
For the performance on Friday, the troupe will be presenting a modernized Hansel and Gretel in addition to their new piece about the history of the prison system, from chattel slavery to today.

The show starts at 6 p.m. on Friday at Boneshaker Books (2002 23rd Ave. S., Minneapolis). The two plays take about an hour, and afterwards there will be a discussion with the audience. The troupe also travels with books and pamphlets for people interested.