File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 63

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Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2008 08:34:38 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] The Griffin & the Minor Canon

The idea that the directors of the Starry Night Puppet Theater cast a puppet production with "actors" instead of "puppeteers" and then trained them in a short amount of time to work as puppeteers is ridiculous and pretentious  Think about it...would an orchestra concertmaster add a novice musician to a violin section?

Jan Hacha & Chris Crane may have run a successful company for a time, but they never even considered themselves to be puppeteers, and only learned about puppetry in a college workshop.  So their knowledge and experience was extremely limited, to say the least.  Again, that's why we had to wear the fencing masks.  And as the Starry Night bunch approached the possibility of a national tour, they were actually so embarrassed about working with puppets, that they dropped the word "puppet" from their company title.

You may think that I'm patting myself on the back, but here's an anecdote - which I've never told before:  Like I said, I was in the original cast.  During our initial run at Syracuse Stage (which produced the show & then sent us out on the road), it was customary for a resident professional performer to conduct a Friday afternoon seminar with all the theater majors at Syracuse University.  One week, I was asked to be that person.  The reason?  The Syracuse Stage director said, "You're the best puppeteer in the show."

I thanked him very much & was so appreciative.  But I had to turn him down.  If I had accepted, my Starry Night employers would have been so jealous that the rest of the tour would have been extremely uncomfortable.

Don't get me wrong.  I learned many lessons while being in the employ of the Starry Night Puppet Theater.  But none had to do with theater.

Robert Rogers
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