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Queen of the Cats 

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Though it’s geared toward children, viewers of all ages can probably take away something about world culture, kindness and generosity this weekend when Portland’s award-winning Tears of Joy Theatre presents its traveling puppet show, Malika, Queen of the Cats, at The Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center.

The artistic and educational production is based on a book by Washington author Sally Bahous, called Sitti and the Cats. It tells a traditional Palestinian fairytale about an old woman, Sitti, who is rewarded for her selflessness toward some magical — and, of course, talking — cats led by the feline Queen Malika, after Sitti rescues a kitten stuck in a tree. Not all of the story’s characters embody everything good and right, though, and this is where the lesson is revealed.

“The biggest message is really the generosity message,” says Tears of Joy’s managing director Neal Spinler. “Sitti is a generous woman who gives to others before she gives to herself.”

The show isn’t just about teaching young kids morality; Malika has fun elements, too, he says. Audiences get a basic overview of Middle Eastern culture in the songs, dances and garb worn by the puppets, and adult attendees should appreciate the show’s humor and its detailed, artful puppets.

“There is something magical about them,” Spinler says.

The 20-plus intricate, handmade puppets used in Malika were mainly made from paper mache by Tears of Joy’s in-house artists, including a few puppets that are multiples of the same character since, Spinler says, “it’s hard to do a costume change on a puppet.”

Malika, Queen of the Cats • Fri, Oct. 12 at 5:30 pm, workshop at 4:30 pm •┬áJacklin Arts and Cultural Center • 405 N. William St.,┬áPost Falls • $7/performance, $15/performance and workshop • Ages 5+ • 208-457-8950 • tojt.org

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