Now the Real Work Begins…

Sunday was a great day for us, as we were able to take posession of the puppets from “The Snow Queen” and “Pictures at an Exhibition”. We met with the president of the board of directors of the former “Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theater, Inc.” and loaded everything (well…almost everything) into a van and brought it back to Cleveland. I say almost everything because, after getting everything back home, we did an inventory and found that several “key” pieces were missing. After a phone call to John, we found that just about everything has been found and we will get the missing pieces within the next few weeks.

Now for the bad news…

All of the puppets from “Pictures at an Exhibition” are in pretty good condition. Some worn costumes, cracks and chipped paint…nothing that we can’t take care of quite easily. “The Snow Queen”…now that’s another story! These puppets look like they haven’t been cared for in years. Everything is filthy! Some of the puppets had been stuffed into bags, while others were openly exposed. Torn costumes everywhere…and so much damage! My favorite puppet, “Rodney the Reindeer” looks like he was in a concentration camp for years…his internal framework had been broken. Someone decided that instead of repairing him, they would cover the “sink hole” in his back by putting a saddle on him! All of his internal working has been “rigged” with wire and duct tape. This puppet usually mounts to a large spring, which allows for movement when he is run across the stage. Another spring, mounted inside the neck, allows for realistic head movement. Some genius decided to replace the springs with EMT “T” joints, which only restrict movement and make the entire puppet very unstable. Who are these so-called “puppeteers” that were allowed to destroy these works of art? I would love to sit down with them and explain to them just how much damage that they actually did! Some of the puppets costumes had been changed…horrible, ugly, ill-fitting costumes that do not look at all like the originals. Someone actually added legs and feet to a puppet that does not need them…making the whole puppet out of proportion and unbalanced. These puppets were created by masters, who put so much time, love and care into each and every piece. They have been turned into what I consider a pile of junk! I mean, Gerda, the hero and star of the show, has had her brown, braided hair replaced by both brown AND blonde hair that has been glued to her head…yes, I said blonde! Everything looks like it has been done by a bunch of 6-year-old kids and NOT by a group of professional artists. From what I have been told, this is the condition of the puppets as they were touring this past season. WTF? I wouldn’t pay fifty cents to see these puppets perform. Nor would I want to see them manipulated to the pre-recorded tracks that I was given along with the puppets. I don’t know the people who voiced this thing. I don’t know who did the re-write or reproduced John Kirk’s original music. I don’t know who directed this recording session. All I know is that, if the recording and the condition of the puppets is any indication of the product that Das Puppenspiel was putting out…it is no wonder that they are out of business. Don’t get me wrong…I love Das Puppenspiel and the body of work. I have nothing but the greatest respect for the creators. People like Jenny Kuhlman, Pam Moran, Steve Swank, Kevin Kuhlman and Myriam Mayshark created some amazing art, both in the puppets, the staging, the stories…everything! I just have a problem with where the company ended up and the reasons behind it. Oh…and to whoever killed these beautiful puppets I say “Shame on you! How dare you pretend to be an artist, a performer, a puppeteer…all of which you are NOT!!” Not to worry…all will turn out fine as Jenny and I WILL return each and every one of these little works of art to their original splendor!

One Response to “Now the Real Work Begins…”

  1. Hi, Vince- do you remember me, by chance? Allison DeFrees, from the 1999-2000 Das Pupp season. I loved Kevin and Martha and Miriam and our amazing team, and I am so sad to hear that the company is gone, but glad to hear that you’ve been able to recover some of the shows, and that Pictures was in great shape. How is Kevin? And Martha? And Miriam? Could you possibly put me in touch with them? I am practicing puppetry over here in London, UK, where I moved after marrying a Brit. I’ve been doing mostly shadow puppets, adapting great works (Shakespeare, Chaucer, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, etc.) for one hour puppet shows for literary festivals. But I so remember meeting you during our first week of rehearsals in 1999, you telling me tricks about handling the lighting fixtures and getting everything to fit into the trunks. I’d love to hear about the legacy you are working towards regarding Das Puppenspiel, and donate some funds towards Rodney the Reindeer’s repair. Thank you for trying to salvage as much of our wonderful troupe as possible! That year of my life with Das Pupp will rein as one of the most formative of my life…. Cheers, and lots of puppet joy – Allison (nee DeFrees) Ouvry.

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