Friday, March 30, 2012

Giant Ass Puppets

Yes, I have a thing for puppets. And marionettes. Although I do admit to being intimidated by the complexity of marionettes.

As I've mentioned before, I was working for the summer in Shepherdstown, WV as prop shop forman for the Contemporary American Theater Festival. One day, an intelligent young woman working in the costume shop told me about a local venue that was having a event that evening open to the community. It was on private property, and had the unusual name of "The Timberframe Folly".

Timber Frame Construction

I was intrigued immediately, as I have a love for timber frame style construction.
When my wife and I built our home, we hoped to be able to employ timberframing. However, it was a bit out of our price range, and we went with something a little more traditional, although very much inspired by the timber frame idea.

As intrigued as I was over the timber framing, more to my joy was the information that there was going to be a show in a few weeks at The Folly, incorporating 10 foot tall marionettes.

The event that evening was wonderful, featuring hand made arts and crafts, home made stew, and local musicians performing under... the Timberframe Folly.

The folly has its own interesting history, but it was created by Al Thomas, a local timber framer, on the Sanders property. I inquired about the giant marionettes, and was introduced to Bradley Sanders, creator extraordinaire. Bradley showed me the marionette bodies in progress, as well as the enormous radio controlled heads.

Bradley and I shared an amazement at a video we had seen online. Each of us (independently of one another) had enthusiastically showed this video to anyone who would listen. Bradley laughed as I pulled it up and showed it to him, as if he had never seen it. Here it is:

I'll fast forward to my last day at CATF. After completing my contract as prop shop manager, I stopped by the Folly to see if they needed any help on the show, which was coming up in a couple of days. I had rescheduled my departure day to Sunday instead of Friday, so I could see the Saturday night show.
When hearing that I was going to be in town for the show, they asked if I would like to be part of it and help manipulate one of the marionettes. (Each marionette requires 4 people to operate). I jumped at the chance.

Here are videos of Fish Tales, written and performed by the local children at The Timberframe Folly.

Part 1:

Part 2

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