On this Sunday afternoon an enjoyable experience with strings attached; literally not figuratively speaking of course. A puppet show! It was the Cashore Marionettes presentation of Simple Gifts. Joseph Cashore a professional puppeteer has performed all over the world, he crafts all his puppets by hand and even designs their mechanics.
Now, I have always been a fan of puppets. I still watch Sesame Street from time to time; Jim Henson’s work is incredible! These puppets on the other hand were different. Not you’re typical yapping hand puppets but intricately rigged full motion marionettes. The show was more about the puppets movements rather than their speech. In fact, there was little to no dialog what so ever; just classical music scores and rock n’ roll excerpts. I would describe this puppetry as live animation or theater animation. In a way similar to rigged computer models used in 3D graphics and video games.
This was different than any other puppet show I have ever seen! The only other puppet show being the Blue Sky Puppet Theater when I was in elementary school. (I’ll never forget their song “I Like Myself”.) In this show Joseph Cashore doesn’t even try to hide himself. He’s on stage performing alongside his puppets. At first it took a little getting used to but that changed quickly when I noticed the fluidity and life-like movements these puppets possessed. Ramul in “The Encounter” was especially expressive, throughout the skit he would burying his face into his hands and pout. The mechanics of Elmo in “The Stand-In”, were interesting. It was a boy on a flying trapeze. The marionette swung back and forth throughout the air switching between grabbing the bar with his hands and his feet, even his mouth. Speaking of mechanics not to be lost was Cyclone in “A Pastoral”. It was a sketch with a fully rigged horse that gallops, nods his head and whips his tail. It was like a ballet in a way. Classical music played whilst Joseph twirled around in circles with Cyclone as if they were dancing. The variety of movements he could get out of the different marionettes was amazing! The Maestro Janos Zelinka marionette played a violin and the bow movements actually matched the song fittingly. These marionettes were like an extension of Joseph Cashore’s body.
This was a quaint experience to say the least. Puppetry whether it be a mechanic or vector is still very prevalent in our society today. We should embrace it! This classical art is the building block of a lot of technology we use in our everyday lives. Go catch a puppet show! There will be various performances at Strathmore from now all the way until August 2ndwith a puppet art exhibit in the Mansion until August 17th for more info go to www.strathmore.org/puppets
TRR Revue By: Alan Duckworth