These puppets are dirty!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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They drink, smoke, they curse. One, a Puerto Rican grandmother, defiantly shuns underwear. Another, a sphere-headed butler named Pitter Pat, admits to frequenting prostitutes.

Now here are some sock puppets who are ready for prime time!

Beginning May 30 at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO, these puppets and a slew of their ilk will take the stage for the 10th anniversary of Puppet Lab.

The show’s star, New York Observer columnist Toni Schlesinger, will channel Charlie Rose and do sit-down interviews with a memorable puppet from the series’ past. She plans to be tough on her subjects, she told GO Brooklyn, and won’t shrink from blindsiding interviewees with projected video clips from past performances.

So what is it about puppets? “You sort of forget they’re objects,” Schlesinger said. “It really is almost like they’re real people.”

Under the direction of Puppet Lab co-director Dan Hurlin and David Neumann, Lab artists and their collaborators meet weekly over nine months to develop projects. Each spring, St. Ann’s Warehouse presents a mini-festival of New Puppet Theater from the Lab.

Schlesinger’s lively imagination and unique background — she’s written and performed in a number of shows, some with live humans — gives her a unique approach to the puppet interview. With Pitter Pat, who’s written a tell-all memoir entitled “Out of the Sock,” she engages in literary conversation. With others, she gets into more provocative subjects — puppet discrimination, a debate on Spanish Harlem’s gentrification with the commando abuela and a discussion of the Iraq war with an ancient Greek warrior.

“There really is a human behind every puppet, whether it’s the person who made it or the person controlling it,” said Schlesinger. “It’s not like I walk around talking to statues and vases.”

Other works in the series include “Dear Mme.,” a marionette play set to music performed by the Kronos Quartet; “Billy-Club Man,” an exploration of the life of the Spanish Punch as he appears in the puppet plays of Federico Garcia Lorca and as he is imagined offstage; and “The Jester of Tonga,” an esoteric travelogue about the last true monarchy in the world, the Kingdom of Tonga.

“Labapalooza!” will run from May 30 through June 3 at St. Ann’s Warehouse (38 Water St., at Dock Street in DUMBO.) Tickets are $20. For information, call (718) 254-8779 or visit www.stannswarehouse.....

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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