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Spiral Q performer in the 2007 Peoplehood Pageant


Spiral Q Puppet Theater is a puppet troupe that was founded in 1995 by Matthew "Mattyboy" Hart in Philadelphiamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker. After traveling the country he was inspired by the street performance work of the Radical Faeries and the Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover, Vermontmarker. On his return to Philadelphia, Hart founded Spiral Q as a way to use his newfound interest in puppetry, street theatre and pageantry to promote social and political change. To this day, Spiral Q seeks to bring the storytelling techniques of giant puppetry, pageantry, and toy theater to the urban backdrop of Philadelphia.

History

"The Sleeping Giant" from Spiral Q's 2007 Peoplehood Pageant
Initially, Spiral Q was a shadow puppet theater that staged performances throughout the community. Local activist groups came to Hart to make puppets, props and effigies for demonstrations and educational campaigns. Spiral Q's identity springs from this early work in Philadelphia's HIV/AIDS activist and queer communities, particularly with AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP). In 1997 and 1998 Hart organized the week-long Full-On Puppet Festival in Philadelphia. showcasing puppeteers from around the country. Spiral Q also organized an annual Day of the Dead parade on South Street up through 1999. Both the festival and the parade were set aside so that the organization could focus on community activism.

Workshops with a local children's garden led to another model of community performance with children and adults carrying giant puppets that they created in parades and pageants. In 2000 Spiral Q started an annual city-wide parade and pageant called Peoplehood. Each October the parade starts at the Paul Robeson House and ends in Clark Parkmarker. In addition to neighborhood parades and pageants such as Peoplehood, Philadelphians can get involved with Spiral Q through its Justice Works Program and Education Initiatives.

Since 2000, the theater has been located in the East Mantuamarker section of West Philadelphia. Hart left the company he founded in 2003 to pursue other interests.

Living Loft Puppet Museum

Open by appointment only, the Living Loft Puppet Museum features many of the giant puppets used by the theater. Visitors may see six-foot human heads, birds, fish, costumes and other giant creations. There are also toy theater displays of Philadelphia landmarks. Tours include art-related activities and a history of the theater company.

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