Great Lakes National Puppet Theater Blog

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Originally posted on October 14, 2010

Chapter 1: Little Eyes Staring at Me

So, about two months ago I heard a rumor. Something that I had feared for quite some time. I received word that my old company, Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theatre was closing. It seems that after 37 years, the company was in too much debt and the operating money was gone. The board of directors, which I am told went from 11 members, down to 3 (is it any wonder that there was no money, with nobody around to do any kind of fund-raising or grant writing?) had no choice but to close down. I am told that they moved everything that might bring in some money,

into a storage box and everything else (small puppets, sets, curtains, props, special effects, trunks and cases, etc.) was left behind. (Which means…is now in a landfill somewhere! Damn Shame!) So, in my ultimate wisdom, I come up with this idea…”if I can get enough money together, I can buy the puppets and keep at least a couple of the shows alive!” So…here we are…October 14, 2010…2:56 p.m. and I have now found financial backing so that Jenny and I can purchase the puppets from “The Snow Queen” (the set, props, effects and everything else was left behind. *see landfill comment) AND the complete “Pictures at an Exhibition”, Das Puppenspiel’s award-winning show. Although, I learned this past week that some of the curtains for “Pictures” may be missing. So begins a labor of love…cleaning, repairing and restoring these little works of art that have been delighting audiences for well over twenty years! Each puppet will be evaluated to see what need to be done in the restoration process. The costumes mill be cleaned, repaired or replaced and the puppets head, hands and feet will be cleaned, cracks repaired and repainted as needed. While we are at it, the entire set will be replaced for “The Snow Queen”, as well as the props and effects. With the advances in technology, I will be able to achieve BETTER effects at a much lower cost. We will also be rewriting the script and writing new, original music for the show. “Pictures” will remain untouched, as far as rewrites. I want to keep this piece in as close to original form as possible.

Chapter 2: The Birth of a New Company

So, to accommodate all of the new shows, along with our own original work, Jenny and I have created “Great Lakes National Puppet Theater“, as an offshoot of Vincent Magic Productions. Future projects will include a new website for the company, lots of grant writing, auditioning, casting and rehearsing new puppeteers and, most importantly, keeping the spirit and vision of Das Puppenspiel alive and well.

I invite all of you to take this journey with us.

Great Lakes National Puppet Theater Blog

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Chapter 6: A New Beginning

February 2, 2014

So, this is the first new post in our new blog. All of the previous posts have been taken from our old blog on another website. Everything from now on, will be current.

This project has been going on for a very long time. After purchasing the puppets for “The Snow Queen” AND “Pictures at an Exhibition”, we found that almost all of the set pieces had been lost for both shows. During a visit back to Western New York, we found ourselves driving past the old Das Puppenspiel shop. I decided to take a chance and looked up and called the owner of the building. Vince, owns the building, as well as a hair salon on the first floor. He remembered me from my days working for Das Puppenspiel. I told him about our situation and asked him if the company had left anything upstairs when they left. He told me that “Everything is still upstairs!” We immediately set up a date to drive in and look over the items. Vince told me that, at the time of their leaving the building, Das owed him over a years worth of unpaid rent money. In an effort to recoup some of his money, he had taken as much of the metal that was upstairs and scrapped it. However, we were welcome to look over everything else that had been left behind.

After settling on a price, we were allowed to take whatever we wanted from the upstairs rehearsal space. We were able to find many of the missing set pieces for “The Snow Queen” and “Pictures at an Exhibition”. Many of the pieces are in really bad shape and everything needs to be refurbished and repainted. However, this will save us months of work.

In another turn of events, we were able to purchase a third Das Puppenspiel show. “Peter and the Wolf” was offered to us by the remaining members of the Das Puppenspiel Board of Directors and we were (fortunate) to be able to get the funds together. Again, the puppets need a considerable amount of repair work. Also, all of the metal framing for the set had been lost…a result of the scrapping by the building owner. So, here is another show that, in time, we will be able to produce and tour with.

The real problem here is the lack of time and funds to continue the restoration work. We are in the process of setting up a fund raising project through “Kickstarter”. We will post information of the project as we get closer.