File puptcrit/puptcrit.0907, message 86

Date: Sat, 11 Jul 2009 18:06:52 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] how to consider

One of my favorite puppeteers is appalachian folk artist Clyde
Hollifield.  He  saves his best performances for venues in the
wilderness. Usually a dark rhodadendron thicket on the dark of the
moon.  He sometimes made puppets from rotting wood called foxfire
lashing it to twig armitures. He had even  learned the mating signals
for fireflies and could reproduce them on a pinlight colored green. On
cue fire lies would wander into the set looking for the hook up.  His
best performances were for one or two people on the spot.  One was the
unearthing of an apparent ancient Cherokee pottery vase which
contained what appeared to be antique native American Ginseng man
puppet.  The little man came out of the pottery washing his face on
baby ferns.  It was a pagent of the emergence of ginseng from the
winter dormancy beneath the ground. He would bury the ginseng man for
the winter when the plant lost its leaves and went under ground.  He
has mostly given up puppetry. He did excellent school shows and that
sort of thing but his best work which was pretty awesome occurred in a
wilderness gorge or deep in the smokeys where on nights in the second
week of May there are many natural bioluminescent actors being staged
into theatrical productions for the very few.

On Sat, Jul 11, 2009 at 2:01 PM, malgosia askanas<> wrote:
> But why is it a "sad and sobering realization"? =A0Would you really
> prefer to be working in a big-business, multi-buck, mass-production
> industry?
> -m
> At 1:03 PM -0400 7/11/09, Stephen Kaplin wrote:
>>This a very interesting question. I think the answer has to do with
>>the economies of scale.
>>Consider that in the US there are (according to recent Bureau of
>>Labor Statistics) some 1/4 million professional musicians and
>>singers.To provide outlet and support for that small army of talent,
>>there are in New York City alone many hundreds of performance venues
>>of various size, ranging from Avery-Fisher Hall down to Joe's Bar
>>and Blues Joint. Added to that, there dozens of music Festivals and
>>outdoor concerts happening at any given time all over the city and
>>state; an enormous industry set up to record and distribute music
>>globally; dozens of university level programs devoted to training
>>new musicians and technical people entering the field; =A0music
>>programs and/or bands in most public schools and institutions (even
>>the US Armed Forces spends more on marching bands than then entire
>>annual NEA budget!); half a dozen of magazines and journals in any
>>given corner newstand and innumerable websites focussed exclusively
>>on some corner of the music world, =A0etc, etc, etc.
>>In contrast the field of professional puppet theater consists of
>>(rough guess, since BLS doesn't list puppetry as a separate category)
>>about 2500 (?) professional practitioners. In New York City (with by
>>far the greatest concentration of puppeteers in the nation) there
>>are, at last count, 4 permanent puppet theaters (none of them able
>>to seat over 100 people). Nationwide there are 2 graduate level
>>university programs, no industry-wide unions, one national festival
>>and a couple of regional festivals per year and no national touring
>>networks or circuits.
>>So do the math. We can't afford to exclude anybody from our field.
>>If someone is doing great work in their living room or garage it
>>gets heard and appreciated because there is so little else to hear
>>and appreciate.
>>Truly a sad and sobering realization (not that Baumann and Dwiggins
>>ought not be heard about). But from what I understand, we are in the
>>midst of something kind of like a puppet renaissance, yet the facts
>>on the ground have not shifted all that much. Or perhaps they have,
>>since many unemployed actors and musicians are beginning to discover
>>the joys of (non-union) puppet work.
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