Meet Puppeteer Cecilia Cackley

Last in our series of short interviews with the puppeteers of The Amazing and Marvelous Cabinets of Kismet. All photos are by Sarah Gingold.  

Cecilia operating the Lightbulb puppet.

Cecilia operating the Lightbulb puppet.

Bio: Cecilia Cackley has been experimenting with puppets for more than ten years. As a puppeteer, she has worked with GALA Hispanic Theatre, the O’Neill Puppetry Festival, the Avignon Off and the Source Theater Festival. Cecilia has directed for the Capital Fringe Festival, Young Playwright’s Theater, Rorschach Theatre and The Inkwell. She taught third grade in the public schools for six years and currently works as a teaching artist in Washington DC. Cecilia is a proud company member of GALA Hispanic Theatre and Young Playwright’s Theater.

When did you first become interested in puppetry?

My mother actually collects puppets as art, so they were always around the house and I could play with them. I remember making up little shows with marionettes from Mexico when I was 8 or 9. I started taking puppet workshops when I was about 14 and when I got to college I tried to find ways of incorporating them into plays I wrote or directed.

Cecilia and Mophead.

Cecilia and Mophead.

What is the most unusual puppet or puppet show you’ve worked on?

I made a puppet of a giant mouth out of poly-foam when I was 14 and part of a teen puppet troupe. It was part of a set of puppets that formed a massive face when we all stood together. We created it for an outside community event and I got to run through the crowd asking “Where is my nose? Where is my eye?” It was lots of fun.

Which is your favorite puppet to perform in Cabinets of Kismet? 

I’ve been getting more and more interested in marionettes lately, so I really like the paperfish, who hang from multiple strings. I’ve never seen a marionette made from paper before, so it’s been fun to figure out how to attach them and make them move. In general, I love all the paper puppets; they are so quiet and calm.

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Meet Puppeteer Genna Davidson

Third in our series of short interviews with the cast of The Amazing and Marvelous Cabinets of Kismet. All photos are by Sarah Gingold. 

Genna with King Lamp and Swirl Dancer.

Genna with King Lamp and Swirl Dancer.

Bio: Genna Davidson is a Washington DC based actress, puppeteer and musician. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2008 with a BA in Theatre. In addition to Wit’s End Puppets, she has performed with The Hub Theatre, dog & pony dc, Deviated Theatre, The Bay Theatre Company, as well as workshop productions with the Rude Mechanicals (Austin, TX), 500clown (Chicago) and various local devised-theatre ensembles.

When did you first start working with puppets?

I was nineteen, in college at the University of Maryland. There was a show being done with Bunraku style puppets and they knew no one would have any experience so they held an audition and taught us what to do. It was a very in-depth process, which was nice.

Genna with Nurse and Kismet.

Genna with Nurse and Kismet.

What is the most unusual puppet or puppet show you’ve worked on?

This one! Actually, in high school I didn’t realize it, but I did a puppetry production of Flatland with my best friend at the time. We had to turn a  book into an interactive presentation and we had wanted to just release a bunch of butterflies (for A Hundred Years of Solitude) but butterflies were too expensive so we did Flatland instead with cardboard and a basketball. Looking back I realize that they were actually puppets.

Which puppet is your favorite to perform in Cabinets of Kismet? 

King Lamp, because I think he’s challenging and I just love the fact that he thinks he’s a king and therefore he is. But he really doesn’t have power over any other puppet. He gets to hitch a ride on another puppet.  And he can do cartwheels!

Meet Puppeteer Amy Kellett

Second in our series of short interviews with the cast of The Amazing and Marvelous Cabinets of Kismet. All photos by Sarah Gingold. 

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Amy operating the paper puppet Frank.

Bio: Amy is delighted to be puppeteering with Wit’s End Puppets in this production! Some of the other companies/festivals she has performed with as a puppeteer or human in the MD/DC area include The Puppet Co., Source Festival, Landless Theater, Madcap Players and Bay Theatre Company.

When did you first become interested in puppetry?

I don’t know…I guess the first time I really thought about performing puppets was when I auditioned for The Puppet Co. in Glen Echo, MD. It was a big learning experience and my first interaction with people who were professional puppeteers and knew how to build cool things.

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Amy and Kismet.

Probably this one. Most of the other stuff I’ve done has been more straightforward. This is the first devised puppet show I’ve ever worked on; other shows have been already written before we started. This is also the first time I’ve ever worked with found object puppets in a show.

Which is your favorite puppet to perform in Cabinets of Kismet? 

Bully is my favorite because he can do lots of things with his arms, which are magnets. He can pick up and hold lots of things, which I find useful. He’s also fairly mobile, so he can move lots of places.

Meet Puppeteer Heather Carter

The first in a series of short interviews with the cast of The Amazing and Marvelous Cabinets of Kismet. All photos are by Sarah Gingold

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Heather and Kismet.

Bio: Born helpless, nude and unable to provide for herself, Heather Carter eventually learned to overcome two of those three problems. Preferring to refer to herself not only in the third person but also as a ‘theater-maker’ she works on developing a type of theater that is holistically informed: that is, everybody does everything. A puppet maker, physical theater performer and erstwhile lighting designer and electrician, she loves the spectacle of theater and introducing the improbably and imaginative into Everyday LIfe. Formal training includes: The Center for Movement Theater (DC), Sandglass Puppetry Institute (VT), Commedia Dell-Arte with Antonio Fava (Reggio Emilia, Italy), Shakespeare and Co. (MA), Yale School of Drama (CT) and Marlboro College (VT).

When did you first get interested in puppetry? 

Apparently I used to pull the tongue out of a crocheted cow hand-puppet when I was a three year old. Later I went to a college in Vermont where puppetry was a really big deal and I really hated it for my first year and a half there. But then I saw Autumn Portraits, a famous show by my advisor Eric Bass and I finally understood why some stories can only be told by puppets.

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Heather and the Lightbulb puppet.

When I was at the Sandglass Institute for puppet training, one of my first practice ensembles had a puppet that looked like a giant blue sun head, some sort of fabric and a plumb line in it. We spent a huge amount of time trying to figure out when the plumb line should drop out of the head and I still don’t know what that show was about, exactly.

Which is your favorite puppet that you perform in Cabinets of Kismet? 

Kismet! As I discover more about how the puppet is built and his specific movement qualities, he’s become a very sweet, clumsy, myopic and steadfast creature. He has a lot of character and fidelity, who’s the kind of person I would be friends with.