A joyous glow-in-the-dark performance of mitosis through the lens of mother and child.

Basic Information

Whether you are a rock star or a platypus —no matter the color of your skin—

Inside you, inside me, right now there is a cell waiting to begin.

opening narration of Cellula, a blacklight puppetry performance of mitosis


Like a bedtime story as told by biologists, Cellula fuses a unique style of playful naturalism with scientific beauty. Through dazzling blacklight puppetry and mesmerizing acapella music, Cellula illuminates the true marvels of cell science inside us all. Cellula features the singing of highly acclaimed improvisational vocalists Mankwe Ndosi and Libby Turner with the puppetry of accomplished performers Shari Aronson and Christopher Griffith, under the direction of UNIMA-award winning puppetry artist Kurt Hunter.

Cellula gives the audience a view of cell division as if they are looking under the lens of a microscope, along with a mother (the narrator) who is introducing her young daughter to the wonder of science. The mother weaves the action of the cells into the story of a young cell named Cellula. Zooming in and out between magnification levels, the audience follows Cellula through the cell cycle, from the dance of DNA to the verge of specialization.

Although the content is purely factual, the narrative framework and music infuses emotion and humor in homage to the family lineage of biologists of Z Puppets’ Shari Aronson, writer of Cellula. Teetering on the fragile borders between science and art, Cellula is the expression of Aronson’s own DNA.










Performance history

In The Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre; Minneapolis, MN (workshop production, Puppet Lab New Works Program)

New London Little Theatre; New London, MN

In The Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre; premiere production, Jan. 2017

Historic Paramount Theatre; Austin, MN, March 2017




Study Guide


Before You Go Guide



media kit




MPR News, February 1, 2017

Play at Heart of the Beast is all about a breakup. Link to the full story.

“It's biology under black light….Even children too young to understand the science can get sort of a first look.” - Solvejg Wastvedt


L'etoile Magazine, January 26, 2017

Weekend What’s What: 1/26-1/29. Link to the full story.

"When Z Puppets Rosenschnoz and In the Heart of the Beast Mask and Puppet Theatre – two of the most dynamic and inventive puppet theatre companies in the nation – decide to join forces, you know something magical is going to happen. And what they have created is something truly special ... a magical, microscopic examination of what connects every single thing on the planet."  -Todd O’Dowd


MPR News Art Hounds,  January 26, 2017

Glow-in-the-dark Puppetry about Mitosis. Link to the full story.

"What is interesting in terms of how they present [the process of mitosis] is that it is told as a mother and child story, personifying this really scientific process" -Teresa Mock


Austin Daily Herald, March 19, 2017

Innovative show coming to Paramount. Link to the full story.

"Entertainment for the whole family with creativity, stunning visuals, a capella music and science themes.” -Laura Helle


Rochester Post Bulletin, March 24, 2017

Five things to do this weekend.  Link to the full story.

"Biology class meets lava lamp in the performance Cellula: a joyous glow in the dark performance of mitosis." - Jeff Pieters

In the warm summer of 2016, we installed a phone outside our storefront window and invited people to talk to their cells...

This is what they shared.



tech specs

Cellula is a 50-minute performance combining blacklight puppetry and live vocal music. The show travels in a van and two cars with four performers and a sound/lighting technician who will also load-in and set up. The performers include two vocalists (enter SL and SR, sit onstage left or in pit) and two puppeteers.

Set-up can be accomplished in most venues within three hours. Cellula is designed for a proscenium stage, and requires the ability to completely darken the room.


SET: The set is built around two 6' (w) x 3' (d) x 8' (h) boxes on wheels that make up a 12’ puppet stage when set together end to end. During the show, the boxes are rolled apart to far SL and SR to make room for a large 10-14' puppet. The minimal playing area is 20’ (w) x 12’ (d) x 20’ (h).

LIGHTS: Cellula is performed almost entirely under blacklight. Contained within the set and operated by performers are four 4’ florescent backlight fixtures, a halogen light and two projectors. An additional two florescent fixtures will be hung from a downstage drop bar (preferred) or mounted on tripods DSL & DSR. Two final fixtures will sit on the floor downstage center, along with a special starlight effect. A single blackout near the end of the performance is the only external lighting cue besides a general wash for the curtain bow.  Two LCD projector travels with the show, controlled onstage by performers and projected onto props.

ELECTRICAL: Please have standard 110v electrical access available on Stage Left, Stage Right, Downstage Center, Upstage Center, and SR Orchestra Pit. If hanging bar is available, 110v electrical access to hanging bar. Our tech director will need on-off control of the hanging bar and downstage footlight circuits from the light/sound boards.

SOUNDCellula has four vocal headset microphones that travel with the show (XLR input). If necessary, performers may bring their own PA system (please specify ahead if this is needed). An ipad provides pre-show music and a single audio cue during the performance.

VIDEO: Cellula uses two video projectors located downstage center and upstage center. We often include with the performance a post-show demonstration that, if available, is enhanced by a house projector and screen.

HOSPITALITY: The Company requests the following to be backstage in between events on days in which more than one activity has been scheduled (times will be advanced by Tour Manager):

  • Filtered water (enough for 5 performers)
  • Fruit tray (e.g. grapes, apples, oranges)
  • Vegetarian snack tray (e.g. pita bread, hummus, carrots)


  • Depth: 12’ (back wall to lip of stage)
  • Width – 20’ at proscenium
  • Height – 20’ mandatory

WARDROBE: If more than three performances, please have available a washing machine and dryer.

DRESSING ROOMS: At least one dressing room with adequate heating and cooling, hot water and toilets separate from public must be provided.

PARKING: Parking for one full sized van and two passenger cars is required.

FRONT OF HOUSE: Late seating is allowed. Cellula also includes preshow activities that can take place in a lobby or adjacent area. This can range from a display of a series of photographs to interactive microscope activities, depending on the space available. 

OPTIONAL PRE-SHOW MICROSCOPE GALLERY: With volunteer support, we can set up pre-show activity stations in the lobby for audiences to explore magnification. The Gallery requires at least three 8' tables, one of which with access to electrical power. If space allows, the Gallery can also include a looping projected film of cell division. A minimum of four volunteers is needed to run the stations; depending on anticipated audience size, we recommend five to six volunteers. We suggest opening the Gallery an hour before the performance time, and asking volunteers to arrive for a brief training 15-20 minutes prior to the opening.


SAMPLE WORK SCHEDULE: Production requires exclusive use of the performing space during load-in and performance.

  • Below is typical for a small to mid-sized theater space. Unusual space may also be accommodated.
  • We prefer to load-in the day before performances and load-out the day after.
  • The schedule below is a sample assuming performances at 2:00 and 7:00 pm on a Saturday. Your schedule may vary, and will be forwarded by our Tour Manager.


2:00 pm Company arrives, load-in and set up..

5:00 pm Sound check, set levels.

6:00 pm Company disperses for the evening.



12:30 pm Performer call at theater. . 

1:30 pm Performer call onstage, house opens.

2:00 pm Presenter introduction, show begins.

2:45 pm Show ends, Company returns for Q&A

3:00 pm Clean up and re-set props

4:00 pm Company dinner and break

5:30 pm Performer call, warm up.

6:30 pm Performer call onstage, house opens.

7:00 pm Presenter introduction, show begins.

7:45 pm Show ends, Company returns for Q&A audience, greet children.

8:00 pm Clean up and pack small props

9:00 pm Company disperses for evening.



10:00 am Company strikes and packs set, loads out.

12:00 pm Company departs.




"I never thought mitosis could be taught to a young child, but Cellula does it beautifully!"

—MN Microscopy Society 


"Stunning— humorous and rich."

— Alison Heimstead, Performance Curator, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre