String City is Nashville’s means of connecting puppetry, history and country music with a focus on Music City. The shows take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and are co-presented by Nashville Public Library’s Wishing Chair Productions. Combining traditional rod puppetry, shadow/animation puppetry and more to portray country music’s legacy through songs and puppet appearances. The show is truly engaging for you children and adults, making this the perfect quality-time moment to experience with the littles, while also learning a little something about our city’s culture and history in the process.
Below we dive into a bit of String City’s history and look into what’s to come.
The Nashville Edit: What inspired String City?
String City: Steve and Judy Turner were the visionaries behind String City. Being passionate supporters of the arts and arts education -– at the time, Steve was chairman of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s board, and Judy was serving on the advisory committee of the Nashville Public Library Foundation. They were inspired by Ellingtown, our production about Duke Ellington that serves as an introduction to Jazz for young people. They thought, “what if Wishing Chair could do the same for Country Music?” and in that they conceived String City as a collaboration between both institutions that could ultimately educate audiences around the world about Music City.
TNE: How did they get this concept off the ground?
SC: The original String City show premiered on June 20, 2013. The script was written by the library’s Brian Hull with assistance from Wishing Chair Productions company (the library’s in-house puppet troupe), and the museum’s Jay Orr and Michael McCall. The production featured nearly three dozen artists, pairing puppet doppelgangers with original recordings, to take the audience on a journey through country music history. Wishing Chair Productions built the majority of the puppets, but two puppets were created by Tennessee’s own Phillip Huber, an artist best known for his work with marionettes.
TNE: What goes into deciding the cast of each puppet?
SC: Brian Hull is the artistic director of String City, and he continues to collaborate with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to develop the show. There is no formal selection process or set of requirements artists must meet. A variety of wonderful musicians are represented, all an important part of Country music history and the community of Nashville.
TNE: What can concert-goers expect at this event?
SC: The Nashville Public Library Foundation’s Next Chapter Society is thrilled to work with Nashville Public Library’s Wishing Chair Productions and Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) to benefit the library. The event kicks off with the Rock Me Mama Reception in the library’s courtyard, offering live music from The Barefoot Movement, and an open bar stocked with local and national brand beers and wines, along with Buffalo Trace Bourbon. We’re excited that Martin’s BBQ and Vui’s Kitchen signed on as our food sponsors, so the first half of this event is going to be a blast with all of these partners.
VIP ticket holders will enjoy their own reception with OCMS where they can have a photo taken with the band and get a signed Hatch Show Print event poster. Around 7:45, the party will move into the theatre where the String City production will run, followed by the performance by OCMS… you can’t get more Nashville than that!
TNE: How is puppetry significant to the Nashville Public Library?
SC: One of the unique ways that Nashville Public Library goes about improving literacy is through our tradition of literature-based puppetry that started in 1938 by then-teenager Tom Tichenor who performed a rendition of Puss in Boots at the downtown Carnegie library. 75 years later, thanks to the talented Wishing Chair Productions troupe, our library continues to deliver world-class shows that bring our community together and make our city a more vibrant, educated place to live. Each year, over 69,000 children attend the puppet shows and storytimes at the Main Library.
TNE: Who do these shows benefit within our community?
SC: Funds raised from this event will help the Nashville Public Library Foundation fill the gap between public tax dollars and the additional funding needed to extend the library’s award-winning programs throughout our city, ensuring that Nashville is a great place to grow up for all children.
“Funds raised from this event will help the Nashville Public Library Foundation fill the gap between public tax dollars and the additional funding needed to extend the library’s award-winning programs throughout our city, ensuring that Nashville is a great place to grow up for all children.”
Thanks to private funding, there are two Wishing Chair Puppet Trucks that bring the joys of the library to places that can’t afford to visit or have never experienced a puppet show –- and it’s not just for children. You can find a Puppet Truck at hospitals, festivals, assisted-living facilities, daycares, elementary schools, and middle schools. Annual attendance for Puppet Truck performances topped 27,000 in 2018.
TNE: How can someone get involved with Next Chapter Society?
SC: When you join the Next Chapter Society (NCS), you are supporting the Nashville Public Library Foundation with an annual membership donation, but there are so many other ways to engage -– from attending the NCS monthly book club (local author Rea Frey joins us in October!) to volunteering at events like the NPLF Literary Award Gala or Salon@615 author talks. Plus, you can help plan and/or attend awesome fundraising events like this one, and hobnob with members at our annual social.
Next Chapter Society is a group of civic-minded, emerging leaders dedicated to supporting and empowering the programs of Nashville Public Library. They try to help individuals find their own best path for service. You can check out their website for updates on what they are up to next!
Family Groups and Museum Visitors
November 29-30, 2019
Two shows daily at 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
No reservations required – seating is first come, first served