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Puppeteer presents the moral of the story

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily Jim West returns to the Vilar Wednesday with his lifelike puppets to tell the tales of Aesop's fables.
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BEAVER CREEK – At the hands of master puppeteer Jim West, the fables of Aesop will come to life in Beaver Creek Wednesday as the Vilar Center for the Arts presents West’s production of “Aesop’s Fables.”

West uses his life-like creations to bring the ancient didactic lessons of Aesop to life for audiences of all ages. Conveying some of the most basic and important life lessons, West draws his audience into the tales, and brings to light the important morals which lie within. Aesop, sometimes called the “father of the fable” lived about 2,600 years ago. Born a slave in either Turkey or Egypt (historians aren’t sure), Aesop served King Croesus in Lydia (today’s Egypt). He entertained the king by telling stories, which eventually earned Aesop his freedom.

Fables are simple stories that convey morals throughout the tale. Some of Aesop’s best known fables include “The Tortise and the Hare” (which teaches that slow and steady sometimes wins the race) and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” (which teaches the importance of respecting others) and many others. Aesop never wrote his stories down – they were passed by word of mouth from generation to generation. The first written record of his stories is 300 AD – about 860 years after Aesop’s death. His fables were translated into English in 1484, and have since been translated into almost every language, including Russian, Japanese and French.

West is considered a master of the puppetry art. He developed and performed the shadow puppets for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Manon” and has appeared on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” introducing Fred Rogers and countless children to the art of creating hand shadows. Together, Jim and Marshall Izen co-authored “Why the Willow Weeps,” a Doubleday picture book, and recently won the Parents Choice Award for “The Dog Who Sang at the Opera.” For more than 20 years, West has performed nationally before hundreds of thousands of children. West’s “Aesop’s Fables” hit the Vilar Center stage today at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $11 for children and $14 for adults and are available through the Vilar Center Box Office at 845-TIXS (8497) or vilarcenter.org.


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