NEW YORK CITY, NY — Lucille Jan-Turan, the daughter of frequent River Reporter contributor Ramona Jan, grew up in Damascus, PA and holds a bachelor’s degree in human ecology from College of the Atlantic. But this winter, she’s utilizing a long history in theatre to stage a puppet show for the children of L’orphelinat de Providence, an orphanage in St. Rock, Haiti.
“I’m going out this Christmas and New Year’s; I’m only going to be there for eight days,” says Jan-Turan. “I have a lot of experience working with kids of all ages. I was a preschool teacher in Williamsburg for a summer, I taught ages one through four, and I’m a puppeteer, like my mother. So what I’ve done is, I have built a stage that pops out of a suitcase, and I’ve written and translated an original Creole puppet show. It’s sort of a fairy tale—it’s called ‘Tifi a ak Lalin lan,’ which is ‘The Girl and the Moon’… I’m going to do that show [at the orphanage] for them on Christmas.”
Jan-Turan has been working hard to connect with her audience; the other half of her program will include theatrical movement exercises “to help stimulate creative expression and mental health.”
“Originally, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just do movement exercises with them because I can’t actually speak Creole,’” Jan-Turan explains. “But I’ve actually made a lot of [headway], I can actually speak quite a bit of Creole now. I don’t know how well that’s going to translate when I get there, and I’m actually trying to talk to people. But I’m really excited to immerse myself in the language… I’m like a four-month-old Haitian Creole speaker. I study every day—you actually caught me right in the middle of my lesson… I’ve translated the whole puppet show, I’m still working on the puppets—I’ve just got a couple to finish up—and then I have to memorize the script, and then I have to practice the puppet show itself as much as possible.”
Assessing the reasons why she got involved in this project, Jan-Turan credits her college roommate Nicole Moss, with whom she is developing ALLWAYS, a “nonprofit connector” in St. Rock. “We’re social entrepreneurs, I guess, in the sense that we’re ultimately trying to start… a community based startup—[Nicole] is going out to live there for four months, to become a part of the community, to get to know these women even more closely. They already have a bunch of sewing machines, and the dream, ultimately, is to start a fanny-pack factory, where it will profit the women 100%. Then she’s going to give them the English skills they need to sell their change purses, fanny packs, to the local American tourists, of which there are many. And then our dream is to eventually bring these fanny packs and change purses back to the United States, and sell them at music festivals on the East and West coasts—and then online, worldwide. It’s kind of funny talking about this, because it’s something that’s going to be years in development. It’s not something that happens in a year; it’s not something that happens in two years—it’s something that really happens in five to 10 years.”
To finance the puppet show next month, however, Jan-Turan is conducting an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, which promises that she will “deliver joy.” To view the campaign video and contribute to her cause, visit https://igg.me/at/puppetsforhaiti.