File puptcrit/puptcrit.0803, message 44

Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 00:48:54 GMT
Subject: [Puptcrit] Puppets for performance? For exhibit?

Like Jim Menke. I have seen some great shows done with what appeared to be not-so-great puppets, but I have also seen many great puppet shows with great-looking puppets, which also looked great in puppet exhibits.

>From my first attendance at a National Puppetry Festival of Puppeteers of America, Oklahoma City OK in 1948, puppet exhibits have been an important part of Festivals.

Why? I think in part because a well-designed puppet contributes to fine performance, and that a good puppet encapsulates artistry in its own right. After a puppet wears out as a performer (loose or broken joints for instance), it still has what some mask makers refer to as a "soul" or "spirit" as any work of art should have.

My old painting instructor used to say "Art is the embodiment of an idea"---the artist's idea---and if well-realized, that is what makes art ART.

Incidentally, my teacher, Milford Zornes, the last survivor  of a group of California artists just celebrated his 100th Birthday.
And he is still painting!

Burr Tillstrom claimed that puppets should only be seen in performance and that he would never let the public see a puppet under construction or in a non-performing context. But in real life, he allowed a photo of Ollie Dragon under construction to appear in mass media---a publication known as TV Guide. Nearly every house with a TV set knew that publication in those days. To settle an argument with Burr (that he would never allow such a photo) I sent him a xerox of the article. He acknowledged receiving the xerox.

I am still involved with putting puppets in exhibits because the PUBLIC GETS SOMETHING from them.  When the budget allows, it is preferable to include puppet videos, films, live performances in conjunction with exhibits, but great puppets can and do speak for themselves.

The Tatterman troupe was a spendid example---their puppets had souls.

Burr had many duplicates of Kukla & Ollie over the years, and even from the same patterns, each puppet's duplicate had varied subtle abilities which might differ from other duplicates.  Each time around, Burr would discover what a partcular puppet could do.

I have heard many puppeteers tell me that often the specific puppet "tells the puppeteer" what it can and cannot do"---part of the exploration by the artist.

Last week, Hobey Ford visited our current puppet exhibit at The Craft & Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, taking close-up photos of hands on the Peer Gynt figures created by Tatterman Marionettes for a 1937 production. Accomplished puppet makers and performers can learn much from such an exhibit.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Menke
Sent: Sunday, March 2, 2008 3:24 PM
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Accessibility

I've seen some shows that were wonderful with some not so great puppets. My
feeling that puppets are made to perform not be things to be put on exhibit.
Yes, beautiful puppets are great, but it is the performance that counts.

On 3/2/08, Caro Stewart <> wrote:
> Rolande wrote:
> "However, a puppet's proof is in the performance, not in its material
> sculpture."
> ------------------
> Hi, Rolande. I entirely agree...
> C.
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