To create and present puppetry at the highest standard, to embrace inclusion through a diverse performance and volunteer staff, and to build an environment that cultivates a community to nourish the human spirit and soul.
Written and designed by Paul Mesner, the Nativity was first presented at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in December of 1999.
Performances included puppeteers and musicians. In the beginning, puppeteers spoke the lines in the 6 ft puppet costumes and singing was done by the musicians. This arrangement proved very cumbersome for the puppeteers; saying the lines as well as doing the movements of the puppets.
The Nativity is a production comprised of over 40 volunteers, instrumentalists, vocalists, and singers from the community. Those involved range from ages 8-70 and many have been with the production since it’s inception in 1999. The current director, Jesse Schaaf, started that very first year as one of three Sheep.
The annual production has been presented to thousands of Kansas City audiences and is a favorite tradition for many. It is also an opportunity for the Cathedral to provide outreach in an artistic manner.
After the 2019 production and the pandemic, Mesner Puppet Theater decided not to continue the annual tradition. This decision was made in part due to a desire to do more virtual productions and concentrate on education. The theater graciously offered the puppets, props, and script to Carrie Emmons, whose dream was to form an organization in order to continue the show. A group of people moved the puppets to a storage facility on a warm summer day in 2020.
An advisory board has been established to form the Nativity Puppets, Inc. Members include puppeteers, musicians, technical staff, and production staff.
“When I walked into Grace and Holy Trinity, it brought me back to a time where puppetry inspired and informed. Monks and priests taught the stories of the bible in churches throughout the Middle Ages, and for this church – GHTC – I wrote The Nativity.”Paul Mesner, Author and Creator of the Nativity