ABOUT PROCESSIONAL ARTS WORKSHOP
Processional Arts Workshop (PAW), under the direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, creates site-specific parades, processions, and immersive theater happenings worldwide. Inspired by diverse, global traditions of Carnivalesque street theater, large-scale puppetry, and ritual pageant, PAW uses processional art as means to build and sustain community spirit and awareness, designing original works for established public events and festivals, as well as seeding site-specific pageant traditions in communities where no such events may have existed before. Drawing on regional cultures, history, folklore, ethnicity, and current sociopolitical concerns, PAW engages local residents in every stage of production, empowering them to identify and express the narratives that uniquely define “local” in their own community, against the modern tide of global homogenization.
The resulting works bring together hundreds of volunteers – integrating pageant puppetry, mobile architecture, illumination and projection, masked costume, and sound. Though best known for their giant puppet performances that lead NYC's Village Halloween Parade each year, PAW has also created work for Socrates Sculpture Park, the High Line (for the PEN World Voices Festival), Trinidad Carnival, the EON Performance Festival in Istanbul, the Henson International Festival of Puppet Theatre, and the opening ceremonies of the Walkway Over the Hudson. In addition PAW has worked with communities internationally to create processions, flashmobs, and mobile performances in locales ranging from the streets of Kiev to the South Bronx; from Italian Alps to rural Texas. Their work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship to Trinidad, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Artists and Communities Grant, a CEC Artslink Grant to Ukraine, a Dutchess County Arts Council Project Grant, and a Roman Witt Visiting Artist Fellowship at University of Michigan. Alex and Sophia have also lectured on PAW's work, and Carnivalesque art in general, at the New School, Bard College, Maine College of Art, University of the West Indies, and Kiev's Les Kurbas Centre. A complete catalogue of PAW's projects can be found at www.processionalarts.org.