File puptcrit/puptcrit.0509, message 78

Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2005 22:31:06 EDT
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Dwiggins/ wooden marionettes

I think it's reasonable to assume that Jim Gamble's career is unique.  He is
one of the few puppeteers here who travels extensively abroad. The
circumstances of 9/11 have impacted us all, but especially those who travel=20for a living.
Weight and spacial considerations are critical when it comes to travel. And,
too, the financial bottom line....

Albrect Roser and Phillip Huber both have been affected by these same
Albrecht, because of new restrictions and logistics, and partly due to age,
has suggested that he will not perform here again. (His marionettes are
relativly light.) Our loss.
Phillip has mentioned weight as well. Though I do believe that some of his
marionettes are made using some wood. In his last note he mentioned that he=20was
trying to keep the weight down on a marionette he was working on. He travels a
lot as well....

So the point concerning weight is well made - for those who plan to make a
living with puppets by traveling abroad. 

Just a couple of points to put this into perspective: 
Puppeteers can still make a living in this country using marionettes made
mostly of wood or a combination of wood and other materials. The travel/wieght
restrictions are almost non exsistant. (Except for gas, now.)  It depends more
on what you are willing to do to perform a satisfactory show.

Granted, that after a while, one does examine how one might make it easier on
one's self, especially as one gets older and for one whose stamina isn't what
it used to be...As Jim observed a few weeks back here on Puptcrit, I am a few
years older than he is and it shows. But I still choose to continue. I
certainly do not now maintain the performing schedule Jim  does... But I am
acquainted with the realities of touring. I, too, can say 'been there  - done that.'

My marionettes are made mostly of wood and other materials and are around 29"
tall on average. NONE weighs in at more than FIVE pounds. No kidding. I just
did a test. My heaviest - Pierott - weighs exactly five pounds.  29" tall. All
wood except the head....

David Syrotiak's marionettes are still made mostly of wood and (I think)
Neoprene heads. Same size. He and his company are still going strong. I believe he
has done some travel abroad in recent years.

I have studied with Albrecht and like some of his methods of fabricating a
marionette with aircraft ply (birch ply) and (for want of a better word) light
wood skeletons. I also like some of his methods for using light weight
materials to fill out a form.

While I have not totally embraced his methods, I have used modified versions
with some success. I have learned much from Albrecht... But when I want a
special look or feeling and feel that only carved wood can give me what I want, I
use wood.

Neoprene is something I have never used. But I have seen it in use and choose
NOT to use it. While it may be the 'material du jour' for some (many,
actually,) I prefer the natural qualities of natural materials. Yet not all=20of my
materials of choice are natural. I use what allows me to achieve the look and
feel and effect I want.
One other consideration, though  I doubt that any of my stuff will end up in
anyone's collection, is that I KNOW from experience and observation that many
marionettes made of wood, fabric and Plastic Wood have lasted for at least 70
years and many of those are still in working order.  I don't know that I can
say that about Neoprene. Who can???
I know that latex and foam have very short lives as puppet building
materials... Hands that Rufus made in the 50s of latex have not stood the test of time.
So I am a little suspect of some synthetics.
I still make my hands of wood.

Rather than dismiss ANY methods or materials as being out dated or 'antique,'
I think it more reasonable to suggest that these methods no longer hold any
interest or use for you.  I hate to prolong this diatribe, but since Jim used
the analogy of the Victrola  and the quality (or lack of) of that sound - I
want to say that despite the so-called 'improvements' in sound reproduction=20since
the radio days, many folks are returning to TUBE amplifiers through which to
play their vinyl recordings, because of the warmer tones one can achieve.) So
much for progress... Sorry.

I have to say that for me, I still find inspiration and instruction from
studying Dwiggins' sculpts, (WONDERFUL sculpts,) his construction ideas and=20

I always use Rufus as my prime example, but I would challenge anyone to study
Rufus' innovative control designs or stringing methods and say that THEY were
outmoded. We have made some advances and I don't deny that.  But to REALLY
UNDERSTAND just how brilliant Rufus was as a designer and puppeteer would humble
us all. Even now....50 years later...Or some of us, maybe...

When I teach workshops, I always mention that THIS is the way ---> I <---
choose to build.  This is NOT the ONLY way. But this way works for ME. I always
hope that those in my classes will take what I've shared with them and use that
information to go far beyond what I have done.  I like to think that I also
show them WHY rather than just HOW.

So Dwiggins, Rose, Roser, and others for me, rather than being outdated or
outmoded are TIMELESS in that they continue to teach those willing and open=20to

Some of us sadly, have stopped learning....

Fred Thompson...

In a message dated 9/7/05 8:52:55 PM, writes:   My remarks
were for those who might want to actually make a living with

puppetry today.   Go ahead and make heavy wood carved marionettes that weight

10-12 pounds each.   It's your choice.    Then try to tour with them.

 I did it in my 20s, but it tears up the back after a few years...   And

touring the world via airlines is different today, or haven't you noticed? =20

FWIW..Jim Gamble >> writes:

> To cast a shadow over Dwiggins' talent by considering that marionettes of

> today - which are often bigger than his - would be too heavy if they were

> similarly carved out of wood is silly.=A0 It's not the material they were
made out

> of that people admire, it's the way they were carved.=A0 And to worry about

> their weight in a suitcase and the possible extra fee it would cost to send

> on a plane has nothing to do with art.


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