You know the brown house that sits in Central Park with a flagpole that flies the Swedish flag? How did it get there? Why?
Today the Swedish Cottage hosts one of the few public marionette theater companies in the U.S. and celebrated puppeteers Tom Lee and Matthew Acheson have directed a show that chronicles the cottage’s journey from Sweden to America.
It’s a fairy tale with a large dose of imagination in it, picturing Sweden as a place with meatball factories and a golfball-swallowing August Strindberg. In a forest some trees are being cut down in order to make the cottage, which is later stolen by a UFO and transported via ship to Philadelphia where, in 1876, it is to participate in the Centennial Exposition.
During its stormy Atlantic crossing, the cottage comes in between a love struck cachalot and a giant squid. Saved again by the UFO, the cottage is dropped down in Philly, celebrated and feted at the Centennial, and then travels by train to New York and Central Park, its final destiny. Lee and Acheson tell a whimsical, surreal story, full of charm and inhabited by a whole lot of gnomes. “
A Secret History of the Swedish Cottage” isn’t limited to puppets, but also includes toys and filmed material. It’s the perfect reason to revisit the Swedish Cottage, if you haven’t done so lately. Be sure to bring children or grandchildren.
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