BareBones’ “Annual Halloween Outdoor Puppet Spectacular” marks the turn of the seasons

Photo from “Carry On!” 2013 by Farrington Starnes. Courtesy of BareBones Productions

This weekend, BareBones Productions will open the first of five showings of “Metamorphosoup,” the 21st iteration of the performing arts nonprofit’s “Annual Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza.”  Billed as a “community-created spectacle” the all-ages production is as much a ritual pageant marking the waning of the year as it is an entertainment – like a fall complement to Heart of the Beast’s May Day Parade and Festival in Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park.

More than 250 volunteers – “artists, puppeteers, musicians, performers, builders, technicians, ushers and helpers of all kinds” – assist in mounting the production. As night falls, families sit on hay bales at Hidden Falls Regional Park and curl up under woolen blankets to watch the proceedings unfold. Visitors can expect puppetry on a grand scale, stilt-walkers, fire, song and dance. There is always some portion of the evening allotted for a “public naming ceremony,” in which audience members are invited to pay tribute to friends and loved ones who’ve recently passed on.


Photo from “Carry On!” 2013 by Farrington Starnes. Courtesy of BareBones Productions

Food and drink will be provided on-site by Sisters’ Camelot (a Minneapolis-based “free organic food distribution collective”); the lively street band, Brass Messengers, will play after each night’s show.

It’s a lovely community event. For kids, the show is spooky enough to be thrilling, but not the stuff of nightmares. It’s theatrical, even spectacular to watch, but there’s gravity to the occasion, too – a sense of civic sacrament, as well as celebration.

BareBones Productions’ “Annual Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza: Metamorphosoup” will be performed October 25, 26, 30, 31 and November 1 at Hidden Falls Regional Park, 1415 Mississippi River Blvd., St. Paul. Gates open at 7 p.m. for each performance. There are no tickets to purchase, but there’s a suggested donation of $10-20 upon entry.