Puppets are the normal-person equivalent of the superhero mask; give your average, everyday office worker a hand puppet and watch the silliness commence, especially if there are children present. Something about that little manikin on the end of your arm allows even the most uptight person to cut loose with his or her inner goofball. For that reason alone, the concept of a National Day of Puppetry is worth supporting. Imagine people across the United States stepping away from computers and televisions and instead carrying on strange, id-powered conversations with their felt-swathed hands. Yeah, that's the America we should collectively strive for!

So head to the City Museum (701 North 15th Street; 314-645-4445) between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, when the Puppetry Guild of Greater St. Louis teams up with Everyday Circus to instruct and entertain. Members of Storytime Puppets, Kincaid Karacter Puppets and Puppets on Hand teach workshops and perform puppet shows on the hour. You can make your own puppet (for $2), purchase small puppets and puppet supplies (little outfits, or perhaps a tiny puppet for your own puppet to play with), or just enjoy the spectacle.

Come evening time, get to the Edison Theatre (on Washington University's campus at 6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-6543) to see Dan Hurlin's puppet theater re-create the true story of 25 female survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In real life the women toured America, barnstorming-style, in 1955 to raise money for surgeries to repair the disfigurements caused by the bomb; their journey culminated in a meeting with Enola Gay pilot Robert Lewis on television's This Is Your Life. Hurlin retells this fabulous story through a combination of dance and Japanese-style Bunraku puppetry in Hiroshima Maiden. It is a unique synthesis of the ancient and the modern, and it proves that, in the right hands, a puppet can change your view of the world, if only for a moment. Hiroshima Maiden is performed at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (April 22 and 23), and tickets are $18 to $28. -- Paul Friswold

Cats and Fuckdogs
Poona Loves Everybody

How much would you pay to watch a Handsome Prince play in Poona's Big Pink Box? Guess again! Tickets to Jeff Goode's Poona the Fuckdog and Other Plays for Children are just $12 to $15. Poona, the latest production from Hydeware Theatre, is a collection of fifteen adult fairytales that confront sex, religion, politics...and like twelve other things. Along her Journey of Life, Poona (Melissa Navarro) introduces us to her friends the Fairy God Phallus (Ken Haller), the Man Who Can Sell Anything (Tyson Blanquart), the TV (Megan Kelly) and God (Emily Strembicki). Poona plays and swears at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (April 21 through 30) at the Soulard Theatre (1921 South Ninth Street). For more information visit www.hydewaretheatre.org or call 314-368-7306. -- R.L. Nave

Mommy's Little Monster

Buried Child, Sam Shepard's drama about a rural Midwestern family, revolves around a startlingly dark secret, one that carries a burden of guilt and tragedy on a level best known as "Greek" (it seems son Tilden once loved mom Halie a little too much). In 1979 Buried Child won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, which even Shepard's appearance in Swordfish can't take away. Not one for the kids, it's adult swim this week as the St. Louis Community College-Meramec Theatre Department presents Buried Child Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. (April 20 through 24). Admission is free, and the theater is located at 11333 Big Bend Boulevard; call 314-984-7562 for more information. -- Jedidiah Ayres

Thai One On

SUN 4/24

The words "purifying" and "cleansing" are favorites among late-night commercials for Ionic Breeze and Orange Clean. But the members of the Thai community of Greater St. Louis apply these words to their spirits during the Songkran Festival, a celebration of the traditional Thai New Year from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Thai Buddhist Temple of Greater St. Louis (890 Lindsay Lane, Florissant). Customarily known as the "Festival of Water," Florissant's free event symbolizes cleaning away the scum of the past year with classical Thai dancing and music, as well as Thai food (not free, but worth it). And if you call right now, they'll also throw in the "Miss Songkran" beauty pageant at no additional cost! For more information call 314-839-3115. -- Kristie McClanahan

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