We were very excited to commission an original work from the amazing husband-wife team, Chad Williams and Lindsey “Z.” Briggs, of WonderSpark Puppets and asked them which of the terrific PJ Library books spoke to them.
They chose CHICKEN SOUP, CHICKEN SOUP and we were thrilled. The story seemed particularly perfect for the 14th Street Y, a diverse community of families who represent many cultures. Our school is fortunate to also have a number of grandparents involved with the Preschool. Over the course of this school year, Chad has met with the Preschool students, and spoke about the book and how they’re developing the puppet show. Last month, he shared with me the profound impact this story is having on his wife Z, who has been channeling her deceased Jewish grandmother for the show, and will be returning from a few years of maternity leave to perform this puppet show. I spoke with Z to learn more about her experience with this particular show and what Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup means to her.
Laura: What led you to return to your craft of puppetry for this specific show?
Z: I had two kids and took a couple of years off to focus on them and their needs. My youngest is now 2½ and I’m starting to have time in the evenings and the mental capacity to get back to performing.
Laura: Tell me about your background and how you came to this specific book to make into a puppet show.
Z: I was raised by a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, and had two grandmothers with two different traditions. It was very much a modern family.
When we were approached by the 14th Street Y to do a puppet show with the freedom to choose one of the many, many books that exist in the PJ Library, we found Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup and it felt so personal – it was a version of my own story – and we thought it could make for a good show. It addressed what navigating a family with two different traditions feels like, and the author was so honest and sincere with a wonderful focus on love and acceptance. It felt like the right story and the right time.
We decided not to use the illustrations in the book and create our own image of the puppets. I started researching Jewish grandmas online. Then I realized I have so many memories from my own Jewish grandma who passed away when I was 13 and who I loved very much. She also made the best chicken soup. There were so many fond memories of her food – gefilte fish, chopped liver, cabbage soup, and a spinach borsch called schav. It also made me realize how much my own Jewish mother developed my palette for Eastern European Jewish food, and eating this food makes me truly feel like I’m home in my heart.
In creating the puppet of my grandmother for the show, I started communing with her every night as an adult. Given that she passed away when I was 13, it has been very special to connect with her now, and especially as a mother. Working on this show for the production at the 14th Street Y has been incredibly meaningful in so many ways, I love that the show is about women, and how food is so important in terms of culture.
Featured at Pause/Play: Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup Puppet Show
Join us for the original production of the PJ Library book Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup, which will be featured at Pause/Play on Saturday, March 17 at 3:00 PM. This performance will mark the triumphant return of WonderSpark puppeteer Lindsey “Z.” Briggs, who will return to the craft after a three-year hiatus.
Z is an accomplished puppeteer who took the MFA Puppetry program at UConn, co-founded WonderSpark Puppets in 2009, and continues to be the manager of the Jim Henson Foundation in Long Island City. After taking a break from performing to focus on her family, she is returning to theaters with an extremely personal take on the children’s book Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup.
Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup is about a Jewish Grandmother, a Chinese Grandmother, and a little granddaughter who shows them that their cooking (and therefore themselves) aren’t that different after all.
This event, along with other Pause/Play activities, is FREE for all 14th Street Y Members, but we highly encourage you to reserve your spot today.Member RSVP
Not a member? Access to the Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup Puppet Show is included in the ticket price.Purchase Tickets
Advance Non-Member Tickets: Children ($5); Adults ($10); Family Ticket $35 (Up to 5 members)
Day Of Non-Member Tickets: Children ($10); Adults ($15); Family Ticket $45 (Up to 5 members)