July Grab Bag

A roundup of articles, photos and events that we highlighted on Twitter this month. 

A hand puppet created by a student.

A hand puppet created by a student.

1. A fantastic article about the importance of arts education is here. Obviously, we agree!

2. Puppetry is an ancient art, but its prevalence in some parts of the world is changing rapidly. Read about traditional Indian puppetry and how it is changing here.

3. A tribute to British marionette master Frank Mumford is here.

4.Double Edge Theater up in Massachusetts is performing Sharazad this summer. Find out more about this fantastic theater in this article.

5.  These pictures of giant puppets make us wish we could see this production of The Magic Flute at the Bregenz Festival.

April Grab Bag

A round-up of articles and events we’ve highlighted on Twitter this month. 

Sleeping Beauty in performance. Photo by Gene Carl Feldman.

Sleeping Beauty in performance. Photo by Gene Carl Feldman.

1. Pointless Theatre’s production of Sleeping Beauty: a puppet ballet has only one more weekend to run! You’ll be sorry if you miss it.

2. Elizabeth Hyde Stevens wrote this article for Salon about the Muppets and how they created Generation X.

3. A group of Argentine puppeteers is seeking participants for a convention of women puppeteers from around the world, to be held in Argentina this coming November. Stated goals for the convention include discussion about the messages of shows, the space we occupy, who we reach with our art and how we can help each other. If you are interested in participating or simply learning more, you can email convenciondetitiriteras@gmail.com

4. Poncili Creacion was in town for one night this month. Find out more about the work of this Puerto Rican theater company that creates surreal puppetry on their tumblr.

5. We were fortunate enough to see Ronnie Burkett’s amazing marionette show Penny Plain at the Kennedy Center (more of our thoughts here). For those interested in learning more about Burkett’s work, here’s an old interview from The Guardian.

6. Our favorite illustrator and key inspiration Shaun Tan has a new book out! It’s called Rules of Summer, read more about it on his website here.

February Grab Bag

A round up of links and news we highlighted on Twitter this month: 

#1: Still from the documentary THE MAN WHO MADE ANGELS FLY.

#1: Still from the documentary THE MAN WHO MADE ANGELS FLY.

1. The Washington Jewish Film Festival has a documentary about puppeteer Michael Meschke called The Man Who Made Angels Fly playing March 1 & 2! We posted an interview with the festival director earlier this week and will be introducing the screenings, so come see some amazing marionettes!

2. Benedict Cumberbatch gets some counting help from the Count. I think the show Sherlock could use a few puppets.

3. A thought-provoking interview with Cheryl Henson about the potential pitfalls of being labeled a puppeteer.

4. Genna is working with Imagination Stage on their production of Rumplestiltskin for young audiences. We ran into some similar characters in our folklore research this year.

5. Our friend Ashley Hollingshead from Portland OR is raising money for a new devised theater show called Independent Women. Support new theater and make a contribution HERE.

December Grab Bag

Puppets at the Smithsonian. Photo from www.si.edu

Puppets at the Smithsonian. See Item #2.        Photo from http://www.si.edu

A round-up of events, exhibits and shows we’ve highlighted on Twitter this month:

1. Will you be up late on Christmas Eve, wrapping gifts? Turn on CBS at 11:35 pm to see this Nativity show with puppets from the late Jane Henson. Remounted by Cheryl and Heather Henson as a tribute to their mother, it looks like it will be an amazing performance.

2. If you’re showing family around DC this holiday, be sure to stop by the American History Museum on the National Mall and check out the puppetry exhibit on display. With a whole group of famous puppets, it should be fun for puppeteers or anyone interested in pop culture.

3. I’ve spent many hours watching The Muppet Show, but somehow I missed this lovely segment with puppeteer Bruce Schwartz animating a ballerina that was part of a show with guest star Cleo Laine. Start at about 3:30 to see the dance (or just begin at the beginning if you want some quality time with Dr. Julius Strangepork).

4. Puppets have been sadly lacking in American television since The Muppet Show ended in 1981. Fortunately, for those of us who prefer talking puppet heads to talking human heads when it comes to politics, Fusion is now producing No You Shut Up, a topical news show hosted by comedian Paul Tompkins and a panel of four puppets.

5. And finally, Pat came across the Irish theater company Branar through a local film festival. With magical wordless shows for children and elegant, minimal sets, this is our type of theater. Fingers crossed we get to visit Ireland one day and see their work in person.

November Grab Bag

Moses from THE TABLE. Photo by Lorna Palmer and Xue Qian

Moses from THE TABLE. Photo by Lorna Palmer and Xue Qian

1. Last week, Pat and I got to see a fantastic show by Blind Summit Theatre from England. It was called The Table and consisted of three puppeteers and one puppet telling the story of Moses, along with many clever asides. Really amazing work and the company website includes a set of tips for puppeteers which are also great.

2. A fascinating article about marionettes built by Ralph Kipniss, an artist I had never heard of before. While the Kickstarter campaign mentioned in the article did not reach its goal, there are still people working to raise the money to find a home for this amazing collection and preserve it for future generations. You can find out more and help out by donating here.

3. We made lots of puppets for Cabinets of Kismet out of various kinds of paper, but one kind we didn’t really use was tissues. Maybe if we had seen this video by Yuki Ariga, we would have:

4. Last but not least, yesterday was Thanksgiving, which of course means the puppets that had the biggest audience were the Macy’s Parade balloons. Did you know that Tony Sarg, who first came up with the idea for those books, was a puppeteer? Here is a VERY short clip of him with one of his graceful marionettes. The balloons aren’t nearly so graceful, but they are a lot bigger.

September Grab Bag

The Light Princess, a new musical with puppetry at the National Theatre in London.

The Light Princess, a new musical with puppetry at the National Theatre in London.

A quick note here with a VERY short September grab bag. We are in the midst of building puppets for Fábulas Mayas and battling illness as well as stubborn cardboard and dull X-acto blades. However, I wanted to highlight two puppet projects from the UK; one of which I saw in Edinburgh this summer and another which just opened at the National Theatre in London.

1. Bunk Puppets is a one-man operation with several shows in repertoire. Slapdash Galaxy, which I saw as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, tells the story of two brothers who leave their home planet in search of a new home. The puppets are shadow puppets, but projected from the front onto a screen, rather than from behind, the way all our shadow work has been created. At the end of the piece, 3D glasses are handed out and the shadows turn three-dimensional in an impressive display. If you find yourself at a festival or in a city where Bunk Puppets is performing, be sure to check them out.

2. A much larger project is The Light Princessan original musical by Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson based on the 19th century fairy tale by George MacDonald, which just opened at the National Theatre in London. Part of the creative team worked on War Horse at the National Theatre and this new play also includes puppetry. The story of a princess who cannot cry and is in danger of just floating away, this sounds like a magical new piece that I would definitely see if I were lucky enough to be in London this fall! Amos talks about the process of writing the show in an article here.

June Grab Bag

Katherine Fahey’s amazing crankie. See #1.

1. I was lucky enough to catch the work of the marvelous Baltimore artist Katherine Fahey at a Puppet Underground cabaret this week. She creates beautiful shadow puppet ‘crankies’ for music videos and other stories. Check out some of her work here and here.

2. One of the places that has long been on my ‘To Visit While in NYC’ list is the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. Now that they have announced the upcoming Henson Gallery, devoted to all things Muppet, I think it should move to the top of the list.

3. Baby Universe is a play opening next week at Studio Theatre, that combines puppets with a variety of other media. I won’t be able to see it, but it looks amazing, so you should all go and then tell me about it!

4. Our friends at SCRAP DC have announced their Summer Carnival! Cake walks, lemonade, face paint and games and best of all, all the proceeds go to helping this fantastic crew continue to bring us unique, affordable and recycled arts supplies. Tickets available here.