On July 1st, 2006, I performed my short marionette dance piece, Rango Tango, at the Revolving Museum in Lowell, MA. The performance was part of a special edition of Blood from a Turnip I hosted with Vanessa Gilbert as part of the Revolving Museum’s Pulling Strings: Traditional and Contemporary Puppetry Exhibit. Rango Tango was choreographed with Philip Huber at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center as part of the 2006 National Puppetry Conference with funding the Kevin Clash Minority Scholarship.
Blood from a Turnip was an ongoing evening of short-form puppetry for adults that ran for 19 years in Providence, RI. Co-founded and curated by Vanessa Gilbert, Blood from a Turnipoffered professional puppeteers and those new to the art form an opportunity to present big stories, in miniature. Perishable Theatre ran for over a quarter century in Providence and provided some of the edgiest productions in the state.
The Revolving Museum was an evolving laboratory of creative expression for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities who sought to experience the transformative power of art. Through public art, exhibitions, and educational programs, they promoted artistic exploration and appreciation; encourage community participation and growth; and provide opportunities for empowerment and social change.
Our 2006 main gallery exhibition “Pulling Strings: Traditional and Contemporary Puppetry” highlights the roots of puppetry and the role it can play in raising awarenss to important personal, social, cultural, and political issues. Crated by Rob Millard-Mendez, this group show includes puppets by Martha Dana, Jerry Beck and Jason Daniels, Bonnie Duncan, Bread and Puppet Theater, Pat Keck, the Tryworks Puppet Collection of Jean and Richad Kellaway, Stacy Latt-Savage, Bethanie Petitpas, Janice Pokorski, Patrick Pollard, Nancy Raen-Mendez, Rob Millard-Mendez, Musketaquid Arts Program, Shane Savage-Rumbaugh, Jen Trela, Jane Van Fleet, John Warner with students from UMass Lowell Green Chemistry, and students from Lowell and Boston Public Schools.
From the Blood from a Turnip announcement:
Blood From a Turnip is the ten year old late night puppet salon founded by theatre artists and puppeteers Vanessa Gilbert and Jeremy Woodward to promote the creation and presentation of short form puppet works geared to adult audiences. Your hostesses Vanessa Gilbert and plushie puppet pimp Marsian will introduce the Revolving Museum audience to a variety of puppet shows in varying styles, all of which will take you a little off-guard and put a smile on your face. Appropriate for ages 14 and older.
Bonnie Duncan (MA) – Soul City
This tabletop puppet show follows an ordinary girl on her way to work through a not-so-ordinary city. It was developed at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida.
Bonnie Duncan works as a puppeteer, dancer, costume designer, aerialist, and teacher–often all in the same day.
David Higgins (RI) – The Trip to Aunt Diane’s
This toy –theatre story employs a continuous scroll depicting Higgins’ childhood journey from East Greenwich, RI to Royal Oak, MI. Loss of innocence takes center stage in this first puppet show ever developed by Higgins, a resident of Providence and husband to BfaT founding curator Vanessa Gilbert.
Jim Napolitano (CT) – Nappy’s Puppets
Jim Napolitano’s irreverent shadow puppetry takes stories that we all know and love (Father Goose rhymes, Monkeys who jump on the Bed) and twists them into hilarious vignettes. We don’t know what Nappy will do on July 1, but we know we love it! Jim Napolitano is a native of Milford, Connecticut, and a graduate of the University of Connecticut’s Puppet Arts Program. After completion of his degree, Jim worked with Bits and Pieces Puppet Theater. He performed around the country and around the world, including The National Culture Center in Japan and The National Theater in Taiwan. He has also been a featured puppeteer for the PBS show, Between the Lions as well as the Weinerville Chanukah Special.
Kristen McLean (MA) – The Story of Bird Girl in an Overture and Three Acts
This show uses objects and shadow to explore the trials and tribulations of being a sensitive soul in a cruel, cruel world.
Marsian (RI) – Rango Tango
Plaything, Marsian, presents, Rango Tango, a sassy marionette choreography developed at this year’s Eugene O’Neill Puppetry Conference. Marsian has been the co-curator, host/(ess) & spirit creature behind Blood From A Turnip for the past two seasons and is currently building PuppetSlam.com – the New American Vaudeville, an online resource networking underground puppet slams so puppet artists know where they can perform & venues know where they can find puppet artists.
Marya Errin Jones (RI)
Marya Errin Jones, a wonderful physical theatre performer, will present a completely new puppet performance.
Perry Alley Puppet Theatre (NH) – Chinese Take Out Theatre
One reviewer said about Andrew Periale’s fanciful show, “Our host takes our order from a menu of Chinese food names, and then serves us up our order in the form of several vignettes. We end our meal with the wheel of fortune cookie.A brilliant conceptual piece, unique and fully developed. The pieces range from whimsical to bawdy. Another new direction for a talented company that is always exploring.”
And the music of wunderkind, Maria Ventura (MA)
“I’m fourteen now but I’ve been performing since I was nine. When I was eleven I got to play my first show in NYC (thanks to the wondrous Cynthia Hopkins of Gloria Deluxe) and later that year actually got to open for the amazing David Johansen & The Harry Smiths. When I was twelve I opened for Blue Man Group (got to see them transform from pink to blue) and played before my first (and only, so far) audience of more than a thousand people. I’ve finished recording my first CD at Machines with Magnets in East Providence, RI — it’s called Tear Bird Train and it’s available NOW!”
Phillip Huber’s work spans theatre, cabarets, and film. Before he launched Huber Marionettes in 1980 with partner David Alexander, he worked for Tony Urbano and Jim Henson. Huber has played the international cabaret circuit that including the Lido in Paris, Casino de Monte Carlo, the Cunard, cruise lines, and The Tonight Show. Huber created and manipulated marionettes for the film, Being John Malkovich. He performed his theatre piece Suspended Animation in Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico, and Canada. He has collaborated with Tony Ousler on Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty at the Whitney Museum. Recently, Huber manipulated puppets for the film, Oz the Great and Powerful.