Meet Maury the Monster, the bright yellow mascot for Puppet Palooza and this year’s Green Mountain Falls Arts Festival

The monster Mori spoke in a gruff but cheerful voice.

“Hello. I think everyone should come to Palooza. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Morrie says. “You know you want to come. You bring kids, you’re going to bring dogs, you bring all kinds of things. You bring dolls and maybe you’ll take a doll home . Okay. See you there. Bye. Bye. Yeah.”

Maury is the bright yellow Palooza Doll mascot, a figment of Katie Williams’ imagination. Her Green Box show last summer was such a success that she was invited to do it again, but this time as part of this year’s 14th annual Green Box Festival.

Just 25 minutes outside of Colorado Springs, Green Mountain Falls is home to a unique arts enclave, Green Box Arts. The extensive arts organization includes a variety of programs and venues in the picturesque city.

In addition to tours, open studios, concerts and master classes as part of a year-round artist-in-residence program, Green Box also hosts an annual arts festival in the summer. This year’s festival includes Puppet Palooza.

“I started Palooza because there was nothing like it for me when I was younger,” Williams said. “There was nowhere for the kids to explore that part of the theater.

Williams says the combination of performance and art in puppetry – and the opportunity to share that with children – is what drew her to create the show.

“So that’s been a really big push for me to do this, is to give that opportunity to the kids in Colorado and to give that opportunity to the puppeteers of Colorado as well.”

Courtesy of Green Box Arts
Green Box CEO Scott RC Levy, left, poses with Maury the Monster and his creator Katie Williams.

Green Box executive director Scott RC Levy said the show is a great fit for the festival, a multi-week, multi-disciplinary showcase of visual and performing arts events.

“Here is a technique of applied art. The doll itself could be displayed in a gallery,” Levy said. “I’ve seen things like that, too, but then to have a live person making the puppet come to life is really an expression of the merging of visual and performing arts.”

Maury isn’t the only puppet in the show. There are also puppets that artists and festival-goers make themselves – brightly colored animals and monsters, each with its own uniqueness, designed to stimulate the brain with wonder. But it’s not just for show: Williams said the workshops make it real for kids and adults alike.

“So there’s also an educational element where people can learn about puppetry and even take one home with them.”

This hands-on approach makes Puppet Palooza a natural fit for the mix of outdoor venues and studio classrooms on the Green Box campus.

“This space is so wonderful because it has a huge outdoor lawn, but it also has all these little studios,” Williams said. “So we were able to get small groups in small rooms and things like that. And everyone felt safe.”

Levy said Green Box Arts wants to help people connect with what’s around them, not just the artwork and artists themselves.

“I like to say that Green Box is where nature and art collide, and this combination of natural arts and creative arts is really what Green Box does best.”

And one of the main goals of Green Box is to make art and creativity accessible to everyone. Many of the festival’s activities are free, just like Puppet Palooza. Others, like Ballet Hispanico, have low ticket prices to keep people coming without breaking the bank.

“It’s very accessible and even though we’re potentially remote, [Green Box is] a very accessible place for all people from all walks of life,” Levy said.

The Green Box Festival features theater, dance, music, hikes, classes, talks and more.

The festival continues until the 4th of July holiday.

DOLL PALOOZACourtesy of Jeff Kearney/Green Box Arts
Megan Casey of Rocky Mountain Puppets performs at the 2021 Puppet Palooza at Green Box Arts.

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