File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 52


To: <puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 22:49:50 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] The Griffin & the Minor Canon


> Jack Zipes wrote The Griffin and the minor Canon which I saw a NY State 
> company perform at the Atlanta festival in the mid 80's.  Does anyone 
> remember this production?

I was an original cast member of that show, although I left the company a 
few years before it hit Atlanta.  The troupe was called, "The Starry Night 
Puppet Theater" and was co-directed by Jan Hacha & Christine Crane.  There 
were about 6 puppeteers in the show; Lowell Marin was another one of them. 
His brother is Craig Marin of the "Flexitoons."

Hobey mentioned the use of fencing masks for the puppeteers (who worked in 
full view of the audience).  This was not part of the original plan.  The 
fact is that, except for me, the performers were wildly expressive.  Being a 
young but informed puppeteer, I knew the value and importance of maintaining 
a neutral expression, and argued vociferously during the rehearsal process. 
But being just a hired hand, my opinion counted for nothing.

The show was rehearsed in the company studio in Vestal, NY, and then went to 
Syracuse for fine tuning.  (It was produced by Syracuse Stage, an equity 
theater attached to Syracuse University.  In fact, the scenery and costumes 
were built by the University's Theater Department.)

When the show was revealed to the Syracuse staff, they were so alarmed by 
all the facial mugging, and the Starry Night people's stubborn refusal to 
change, that they threatened to cancel it.  But a several month long tour 
had been arranged, so the powers that be (or were) ordered us to wear the 
masks instead.

I could write a book about my crazy adventures with this troupe, (or better, 
my adventures with this crazy troupe) but you'd never believe me.  I will 
tell you this, and this should be an important lesson of some kind:  After 
some years, (my association didn't last long) the people who started the 
company decided to close up shop.  The trouble was they had built  up a debt 
of $8,000.00.  And although they had always been in control of its finances, 
they had structured the company as a non-profit organization, with 
themselves as merely employees.  When they went their different ways, they 
left their board of directors with the debt.

As Captain Hook would say, "That was bad form."

Robert Rogers

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