Students at Port St. Joe Elementary might have told their parents this week that their school was invaded by goats, trolls and puppets.
Those weren’t Halloween decorations, but rather the Bits-N-Pieces Puppet Theatre’s musical adaptation of the classic Norwegian folktale, the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Bits ‘N Pieces, a not-for-profit organization from Dover, FL, doesn’t do typical puppet shows. Instead of socks and hands colliding for the sake of entertainment, the troupe uses giant nine-foot tall homemade puppets and changing sets for their musical shows.
The Monday morning presentation was brought to the school through grants from the State of Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The grant was for underserved counties, eligible for those who don’t have full-scale art and music programs. The grant provided two-thirds of the money to bring an approved company to the school and a second grant from the Target Corporation was used to cover the remaining amount.
“Structured art is not in our general curriculum,” said Guidance Counselor DeEtta Smallwood. “This is an opportunity to let kids be exposed to cultural activities.”
Through their Arts in Education programs the Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theatre players are dedicated to influencing children through positivity.
Each play contains its own unique life lesson and morals. Through the performance of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, Bits ‘N Pieces reinforced the message that kids can do anything, even when there are obstacles in the way.
Bits ‘N Pieces artistic director and actress Holli Rubin makes the puppets and after the goats had successfully outsmarted the troll and crossed the bridge showed the students how the gigantic puppets worked and encouraged them to try to build their own puppets with bits and pieces that they have at home.
“We’re limited on cultural exposure, but the students were very engaged,” said Smallwood.