Spring Into Wilton’s Stories!


Storytelling through Puppetry, Quilt Codes and Writing Out Loud

A celebration of Wilton Reads

There are many ways to tell Wilton’s stories, both real and imagined, including puppetry, quilt codes and “writing out loud”.  With a nod to well-known Wilton children’s book authors and illustrators like Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire, Johnny Gruelle, E. Boyd Smith and Lillian Hoban, Wilton Historical Society will present “Spring Into Wilton’s Stories!” on Saturday, May 7 from 2 – 4.   The family-focused afternoon will feature the marvelous Adelka of Sova Dance and Puppet Theater, who will perform two original, interactive puppet shows loosely based on stories by Wilton children’s book authors and illustrators.  Kids will be able to join in a puppet making activity and learn about other ways stories are told.  Skilled demonstrator Candiss Cowan will show how special patterns in quilts – “quilt codes” – were an important way to guide enslaved people to freedom via the Underground Railroad, and explain the stories hidden in the designs.  Kids can try their hand at a quilt code activity, too.  Josh Shelov of Written Out Loud will be on hand to add to the storytelling fun.  His interactive workshop sparks creativity through collaborative “writing out loud” which he will present in a fun game show style format.  Josh is an Emmy-winning screenwriter and filmmaker who has made multiple films in Hollywood, and teaches storytelling at Yale.

Puppet shows will take place in the Abbott Barn at 2:30 and 3:30.  Event admission: Free for members; Non-members $10 per person, adult or child.

Puppetry is Storytelling!

Adelka Polak is founder and artistic director of Sova Dance & Puppet Theater, based in Connecticut, mainly serving schools, arts venues and community organizations in New England and NYC, including recent performances at Madison Square Park and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.  Adelka is a dancer, puppeteer, mask-performer and movement director whose work has brought her to Denmark, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, Scotland and Turkey.  She was featured on CPTV’s “Spotlight on the Arts” with Masque Theatre and Larry Hunt in a segment nominated for a cultural Emmy in 2010.

Adelka shares her knowledge of dance, puppetry and crossing artistic disciplines with audiences across the U.S. and abroad.  She has worked with children across CT to make more than 5,000 frog puppets since 2016 mainly through Hartford Performs. She also teaches with Z. Briggs and the Jim Henson Foundation in a contract with the VSA Kennedy Center program in order to train educators how to use puppetry in the classroom.  She has worked as a professional puppeteer for nearly two decades.

Quilts are Storytelling! 

Before the civil war, more than 100,000 enslaved people escaped to safety in the north via the Underground Railroad.  This was an organized group of abolitionists and already escaped slaves who risked their freedom and their lives to bring others to freedom.  But how to communicate with potential travelers who could not read?  How to guide them?  One way was through the use of quilts and the codes in their patterns.  Quilt designs or blocks all have names that are used universally.  These names have meaning.  Quilt blocks were made into signs and maps to help lead the enslaved to freedom.  Some purist historians say this is just “folklore” because it was never “proven”.  Quilters will tell you that the fact that it was never proven is exactly the point.  The quilts were such clever designs that no one could prove how they were being used.  They were “Hidden in Plain Sight”.

Writing is Storytelling! 

Originally taught as a seminar at Yale University, and now, mentored by Hollywood and publishing  professionals, Written Out Loud combines group brainstorming sessions with individual writing missions. Kid’s writing skills will grow by leaps and bound, along with courage, collaborative spirit and empathy.

Josh Shelov, founder and CEO of Written Out Loud, is an Emmy-winning screenwriter and filmmaker who has made multiple films in Hollywood, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Sedaris, Elijah Wood, and others, as well as multiple ESPN “30 for 30” documentaries. He has taught storytelling as an adjunct professor at Yale. Some of his favorite authors and illustrators are Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire of Wilton and their stories of Greek and Norse mythology!