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July 28: Judith Martin and the Paper Bag Players

July 28, 2014
MARTIN-obit-articleLargeJudith Martin, the co-founder and director for half a century of the children’s theater The Paper Bag Players, died at 93 on this date in 2012. “The troupe’s approach,” wrote Douglas Martin in a New York Times obituary, “was to do quick, witty skits — 12 to 15 in a one-hour show — on aspects of children’s lives, from sleepovers to homework to taking baths. Bouncy music from a harpsichord or piano propelled the antic, vaudeville-like capers” — and paper bags and similar household paraphernalia served as costumes and props. Martin’s co-founders were Shirley Kaplin, Sudie Bond and Remy Charlip. She created and performed in more than 35 shows before several million audience members in 37 states and countries around the world. Martin helped run the dance project of the National Youth Administration during the New Deal, studied dance with Martha Graham, and performed with Merce Cunningham and Anna Sokolow. To see the contemporary Paper Bag Players in action, look below. “Ours is a lovely field to work in. It compels you to do something more basic, more fun-loving, more joyous. It is a great support to your imagination.” —Judith Martin