File puptcrit/puptcrit.0803, message 418


Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2008 13:31:15 -0400 (EDT)
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: [Puptcrit] WW II puppets


Alan mentioned puppets made by Estonian refugees that might be in New
Jersey.  Well, the Lakewood, NJ area has a large Estonian community, and
an Estonian church as well.  Back in the 1980's I visited that church to
have a look at a large trunk filled with wooden marionettes made in
Estonia during the 1920's.  They were the work of Oskar Seliaru, who came
to this country, worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant, and died before
he could establish himself as a puppeteer.  The trunk of puppets were kept
in a disheveled room of books - no particular order, but called a library.
 There was also a scrapbook of Seliaru's career in Estonia.

An elderly man looked after the place and he gave me the puppets - about
50.  "Here, bring them to life."  He kept the scrapbook.

Later that year, I performed a play based on an old folk tale with those
marionettes at the Estonian House (a kind of social club) on East 34th
Street in Manhattan.  It was very well attended, and I was thanked
profusely.

I had an article written for an Estonian newspaper, asking for more
information about Oskar Seliaru.  No one responded.  I still have the
marionettes.

Robert Rogers

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