Perception and reality are often two very different animals. Take for instance the vision of Liz Joyce, founder of Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre. Early in the summer of 2001 when she came from New York City to set up a theatre here in Sag Harbor, she considered her venture purely a warm weather operation.Â
But it didn’t take long for the community to let Joyce know they had something else in mind for her.
“People said, ‘Stay, do stuff year round,’” recalls Joyce. “So that fall, I did up a schedule and people came. Then 9/11 happened and more people came. They knew me from the city and found me here.”
In addition to shows, Joyce also began offering puppet playgroups for preschoolers. But as a one woman operation, Joyce had a limited repertoire and realized it wouldn’t take long before she was into “reruns.” That’s when it occurred to her that acts from the city could be brought in to round out the bill.
“That’s how the guest performer series started,” explains Joyce.
On Saturday, March 14, Joyce invites families to the first Bambino Ball, a benefit for Goat on a Boat’s guest performer series. The ball is 5 to 7:30 p.m. above the theatre, on the second floor of Christ Episcopal Church’s parish hall (East Union Street, Sag Harbor). And forget babysitters, as the name implies, this is one shindig where the kids are encouraged to come along.
“We wanted to do something festive for families in the winter and during the longest month with no school breaks,” says Joyce. “There will be cocktails for grown-ups, adult games, pizza, cupcakes, kid games and disco dancing. We’re also doing a puppet show auction, with Minkie the Monkey as auctioneer.”
Joyce understands this is a tough economy in which to raise money, but with tickets priced at $25 for adults and $10 for kids, she feels the ball is a great (and affordable) way for families to socialize together.Â
For an organization like Goat on a Boat, every little bit helps — and when the theatre became a not for profit organization in 2006, it opened up a whole new realm of possibility.
“By becoming a nonprofit, we can get guest performers and a budget to invite others in. We’re more sustainable,” says Joyce who now has a board of directors and staff members who can run the theatre.Â
“We’ve become a household name over the years. We want it to stay that way. I have dreams of bringing in puppeteers from all over the world and making tours for them.”Â
To reserve tickets for the Bambino Ball on March 14, 2009, or make donations to the theatre, call 725-4193 or visit www.goatonaboat.org. Preferred attire is “Fancy Schmancy,” which, notes Joyce, means “dress is open to interpretation.” In other words, beehive hairdos are welcome.Â
Above: Liz Joyce with Little Red Ridinghood
Michael Heller photo