Marionette/String Puppet Exchange
The Puppetry Guild of Greater Kansas City Limited Edition Hazelle's Year 2000 Calendar. Hazelle's Calendar.
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The slide show now contains 3 segments of 7 photos each. It is automatic, so just click!
|Hazelle's Marionettes.||Peter Puppet Playthings.||Pelham Puppets.||Effanbee.|
|American Crayon.||Curtis Crafts.||Kohner.||Tatterman.|
|Madison Ltd..||Helen Haiman Joseph.||Gund.||Tony Sarg.|
|Knickerbocker.||Shackman.||National Puppet & Mask Company.|
A Brief History String puppets have existed for hundreds of years and have been a part of many cultures. Legend suggests that string puppets existed in the Orient as early as 1000 B. C. Remnants of puppet-like figures made out of clay, leather, terra-cotta, and other materials found in archaeological sites of ancient Greece, Persia, and the Far East, could be pre-cursors of string puppets now known as marionettes. The term "marionette" was first associated with string puppets in sixteenth century Europe . The origin of the word may be traced to the Virgin Mary, who was often the principal character of puppet plays during the 1500�s, either as a diminutive of �Maria�, or its� literal translation �little Marys�, of the French reference to the Virgin. The early European marionette, known as "A La Planchette', consisted of a string, secured to a post at one end, passing through the body of a jointed puppet or group of puppets. Manipulation of the free end of string, which was often tied to the leg of a minstrel, caused movement and action thereby bringing the puppet(s) to life. By having the string tied to his leg, the minstrel freed up his arms allowing him to play musical instruments to provide music for his puppet show. These marionettes are believed to have originated in Italy where they were called fantoccini. Early puppet shows consisted of roaming minstrels providing impromptu roadside shows for the villagers throughout Europe. As the popularity of these shows grew their format and presentations became more formal. Theaters were established and complete plays were performed by the marionettes. Many plays were specifically written for marionettes. In 1573 the first permanent Italian marionette theater was established in London. A number of these puppet theaters were quite elaborate having a complete complement of props, lighting, scenery, and wardrobes. It was not unusual for the larger theaters to boast of several hundred marionettes in their collection. During the late 1700�s the composer Joseph Haydn was commissioned to write several operettas for marionettes. A number of Rossinis operas were adapted to and performed by marionettes. Ballets were also produced, with the marionette characters even costumed in tights. As the skills and craft of the marionette artists were refined, the actions and capabilities of their marionette characters became nearly limitless. Their string puppets could smoke, drink, fire weapons, and be transformed from one object to another, all before the disbelieving eyes of the audience. Another type of marionette which saw brief use during the 1880's was the 'pedal puppet'. These marionettes were used in formal theatrical productions. Pedal Puppets were mounted on bases and movement about the stage was accomplished by shuttling the base below stage level on a series of grooves or tracks. Each marionette character's movement and expressions were controlled by a series of strings running through the puppet connecting to pedals or levers and manipulated by individuals below the stage. A separate person supplied the vocalizations of the puppet. Until the late nineteenth century marionettes were not readily available to the public. In the late 1800�s marionette toys were available in very limited numbers. These marionettes were made by hand and were primarily made and sold in the same town or geographical area. It was not until the 1920�s that the first commercially made marionette toys were available in the United States. These marionettes were designed by Tony Sarg and sold through New York�s B Altman Company. For an advertised price of $4.95 one received two marionette characters and a pressed board stage with curtain and scenery. Some half dozen companies were commercially producing marionette toys during the 1930�s. The increased number of marionette makers reflected the rising public interest in marionettes and puppetry. This increased interest may have been due in part to the numerous books and articles written on puppetry during that time, the abundance of traveling marionette productions through out the country , or the puppetry programs in the Recreation and Theatre Projects of the Works Progress Administrations (W.P.A.).
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