I met Katie Ball in 2009 when she visited my rehearsal room for an interview on her show, “Art Beat”, on WUCF. “Art Beat” aired in Orlando where I was staging Bride of Wildenstein – the Musical a performance with puppets in which an aging socialite grows fur and claws to recapture the attention of her philandering game hunter husband. Katie did an amazing job capturing and presenting an authentic slice of my joy in the process of creating this performance.
“If you’re a fan of the gleefully debauched Rocky Horror picture show or the irreverent humor of South Park then you’re doubtlessly in for a treat.”
– 89.9FM WUCF
More from the Interview:
Intro: Puppet shows are just for kids, right? Guess again. The 5th Annual Orlando Puppet Festival presents Bride of Wildenstein, a bawdy adult musical about the infamous Lion Lady, Jocelyn Wildenstein. Tune in to hear how Marsian, the puppeteer and star of Bride manages performing ten characters and a major physical transformation.
Katie Ball Voice Over: Puppets – They don’t make em like they used to. Hi, I’m Katie Ball and this is Art Beat with stories about the arts at the University of Central Florida and beyond. Currently underway, it’s the fifth annual Orlando Puppet Festival, produced by Ibex Puppetry. In addition to fostering talent and bringing awareness to puppetry, one of this festival’s outspoken goals may also be in showing the breath of range offered within the art form. Most adults might think puppets are for kids and while the festival does offer children’s programming, it also presents experimental productions that are adult oriented in both content and theme.
Enter Marsian, a California-based puppeteer and writer.
Marsian: My upcoming production in the Orlando Puppet Festival is called Bride of Wildenstein – The Musical and its about an aging socialite who grows fur and claws in hopes of recapturing the attention of her philandering game hunter husband. The story is based on the real life cat woman, Jocelyn Wildenstein. It’s not reeaaaally like a historically accurate account of her life. It’s more fan fiction.
Ball: Just to clarify, she is the woman who has gotten a number of surgeries to look like a lion, right?
Marsian: Yeah, she’s pretty mangled.
Katie: In Bride of Wildenstein, one o Marsian’s main challenges is in portraying one of the main character’s physical metamorphosis.
Marsian: I really wanted to show change in like going form you know, a woman to an older woman to a cat to a really pumped / injected with silicone kitty cat.
Katie: But a love of challenge could well be this puppeteer’s creative fuel: as Marsian not only plays the lead character Jocelyn, but also Jocelyn’s husband.
Marsian: Okay, Spoiler Alert: Instead of doing half man / half woman like on the front, I played Jocelyn on the front and her husband, Alec on the back for the first half of the show. So its really exciting mask-work and just doing everything backwards and forwards.
Katie: Wow, that’s gotta be um I mean for blocking that’s gotta be really really challenging.
Marsian: It still is. . . But it’s exciting.
Katie: Have you injured yourself or anything?
Marsian: I mean that’s why, you could fall of the stage, you really just know that it’s a live performance.
Katie: Right, but I mean another spoiler alert: I mean how high would you say those heels are?
Marsian: Oh, maybe three inches.
Katie: Not so bad..
Marsian: Not terrible
Katie Voice Over: Actually, they were four inches… With the heels, multicolored hair, leopard bustier and self depreciating humor, it would be easy to wonder if Ibex brought Marsian to the festival solely for shock value.. Not at all. This artist has a masters of fine arts degree in Design from the California Institute for the Arts and has written, produced, and performed puppet shows throughout the country and also in Edinburgh. Marsian knows the craft.
Marsian: There’s all different kinds of puppets in the show from oversized to toy theatre puppets (and what is that? well let me tell you. That’s flat two dimensional type puppets and so there’s some of those puppets, like the Beat Rat doctor and the Cockroach and the uptight pigeon that Jocelyn find. And there’s also a mouth-hand type puppet, Jocelyn’s pet monkey, May Moon, who also talks and sings and dances in the song Cash the Check, which is about, if you can’t find love, you can spend money and it’ll hopefully pick you up.
Katie:Cash the Check is actually maybe one of two song titles that can actually be mentioned on the air. And no song can be aired in it’s entirety because of the colorful language and graphic subject-matter. If you’re a fan of the gleefully debauched Rocky Horror Picture Show or the irreverent humor of South Park then you’re doubtlessly in for a treat. . . If not, then not so much.
Marsian: This is an adult show, but maybe there’s like a cool family that wants to teach their kid that if you feel like a cat trapped inside the body of a child then, you know, do whatever you need to do.
Katie: But what age would you say this appropriate for… Other than that one cool family?
Marsian: Yeah, other than the one cool family – – 17, 18, or whoever would go to an R-movie?
Katie: No – it’s not remotely kid-friendly, which is precisely the point. If one of the major goals of the Orlando Puppet Festival is to educate and enlighten audiences, as to the possibilities of puppetry, then the adult-themed, Bride of Wildenstein is critical to the equation.
And while a surface look reveals a brash, campy risque musical, The Bride of Wildenstein is also more.
You’re touching on psychological issues, right?
Marsian: Right, I mean – Although it’s about this woman [who] becomes a cat, searching for happiness, it’s really about that quest for happiness and what people will do to be loved.
Katie: And that’s no small thing.
Katie: That’s Marsian, the star, co-writer and puppeteer for the Bride of Wildenstein. The production opens tomorrow, October 22nd and runs through Saturday, October 24th at the Gallery at Avalon Island and then the production will be performed at the Cameo Theatre October 29th through the 31st. If attending one of the Avalon performances, be sure to arrive early so you can check out the no strings attached puppet-themed art exhibition downstairs at the Avalon.