Bottle Stopper Project (puppets on film)

On June 14th, 2008, The Bottle Stopper Project premiered during the culmination of the 2008 National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. In The Bottle Stopper Project, I operated toy theatre style puppets (anthropomorphic hand carved Sicilian bottle stoppers) and assisted as a set decorator.  In The Bottle Stopper Project, life is good in an Italian bar until there is a break in reality. The film was screened all over the world as part of the touring puppet film series, Handmade Puppet Dreams.

Everybody collects something…I collect animated carved wooden bottlestoppers from the town of Val Gardena, Italy circa 1930s… I built a bar for them: A typical neighborhood bar filled with the usual customers…life is good… until something happens to break their reality. Wait a minute; was that God? …Where actually are we? …and am I, in turn, being collected?

-Martin P. Robinson

2008, Photo: Richard Termine

The Bottle Stopper Project

A Film by Martin Robinson

Edited by Tim Lagasse

Performed with Marsian De Lellis, Bonnie Duncan, Matt Nicholls, Michael O’Brien, Jessica Simon, and Chase Woolner

Art Direction – Siri Robinson

The Dutch Bar Blues written and performed by Lawrence Siegel

Special Thanks to Annie Evans, Natalie George, Peter Detmold, Martha Conn, and the 2008 National Puppetry Conference

Dedicated to the Woodcarvers of Val Gardena, Italy

From the Program:

Tim Lagasse is a professional filmmaker, puppet master, and designer/fabricator. He works on television’s many children’s programs, including Sesame StreetBetween the Lions, Oobi, Blue’s Clues, and Chapelle’s Show.. Tim also creates puppets (he designed and built the “Bababooi Puppet” for The Howard Stern Show; and consults and directs puppet films for strange people like PBS, MTV, HBO and Nickelodeon. He is a recipient of the Union International de la Marionette Citation for Excellence in the Art of Puppetry, The Jim Henson Memorial Prize in Puppetry, The Broadcast Design Silver Award, and two Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing and one for Costume Design/Styling. He has created and performed puppets for the Sundance Film Festival’s official trailers and their continuing online campaign, Keep It Free, and he’s also a feature performer and director on the PBS series Its a Big Big World! and Disney’s Jonny & The Sprites. He holds a BFA in Puppetry Arts from UConn.

Martin P. Robinson is a 1974 graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He has worked for Nicolo Marionettes, Addis Williams, Bob Brown, Paul Ashley, Bill Baird, Jim Henson, and for five seasons of Spitting Image in England. As a puppeteer on Sesame Street since 1981, he has won Emmys for his characters, Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, Slimey the Worm, and those “Yip-yip” Martians. During his spare time, he performed the Cat in the Hat on the Nickelodeon series, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss. His company, Hairy Edge Productions has designed/performed Allegra’s Window and Blue’s Room on Nickleodeon and Oobi on Noggin. Teaching has become an important aspect of his professional life as the senior puppet coordinator for Sesame International, hiring and training puppeteers for productions in Canada, Mexico, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Germany, Russia, Bangladesh, France, India, Indonesia, and Ireland. Film credits include Follow That Bird, Muppets Take Manhattan, Elmo in Grouchland, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Producers.