Spiral Q Puppet Theater, Philadelphia: Puppetry for Social Justice

Terminal A-West

Founded in 1996, Spiral Q is Philadelphia’s renowned puppet theater known for their large-scale, wearable handmade puppets used as a creative voice to garner public awareness of important community issues. Through universal forms of expression – parades, banners, pageantry, and puppetry – Spiral Q strives to creatively assist communities that seek social change, equality, and justice. To accomplish these goals, they believe in making art accessible to everyone so that people of all ages and backgrounds can unite through art and collectively express themselves, their values, and their convictions.

Using mostly recycled and reclaimed materials, Spiral Q’s artistic practices are driven by their commitment to sustainability that cultivates a sense of resourcefulness and can-do attitudes by making the most of accessible, reusable materials. From puppet and mask making workshops, lessons in stilt-walking, collaborative planning of large public art projects to their involvement with schools and community organizations, Spiral Q has solidified their role in building strong and equitable communities that are responsive, engaged, and rally to overcome their challenges.

Peoplehood, one of Spiral Q’s largest productions, takes place every October. Peoplehood has become a local holiday where hundreds of people parade through the streets of West Philadelphia. Described as “a carnival of community, art, and activism, Peoplehood is a time when friends of different feathers flock together to honor the best in everyone, reflect on that which has passed, and put forth visions for a more just and more joyous future.” Some of Peoplehood’s past themes include the democratic process, discrimination, diversity, the economy, and the effects of violence on neighborhoods. Complex social issues publicly broadcast through puppetry, pageantry, and communal spirit. And, that is Spiral Q’s legacy – empowered communities who exercise their visual voice and work creatively and effectively together for the betterment of a neighborhood, a city, and a society.

www.spiralq.org