A Journey Into European Puppetry

The Commitment Is Made

So it’s time to give an update on the upcoming Gravity From Above journey back to Europe to look for puppets and other curiosities.

100 Chrudim Museum

An Antique Postcard from the Czech Puppet Museum in the Town of Chrudim. Note the CSSR tag.

First of all let me get a bit of news out of the way. The Swiss producers, you might vaguely remember them, have with good timing once again stepped back into the scene. And they have found the missing ingredient for applying for Swiss funding, they have actually located a viable director to help me with this project. I have already spent some time talking with him and he has indeed got a decent grasp of what this project means. Now I won’t give you his name yet. And there’s a good reason for that related to our seeking the funds. But I can tell you. He’s on board and we, the director, producers and myself, will be submitting our proposal to the Swiss funding agency in January. Alas we won’t hear back until March or April so they can’t help me too much with the project. But that is good news. (And it does mean if you care to donate to this project through PayPal I would definitely appreciate any support you care to give.)

And since getting the funding isn’t exactly 100% certain yet, though I’d say we are setting ourselves up nicely, I need to continue with my journey as though I were NOT getting any outside funding yet. It would be horrible to delay all of this then to get a rejection. I’d much rather have at least the interviews I’m going to make, though they might be a bit ragged technically, than to continue to have little to show for all of this effort. No matter what the fate of my personal interviews it can’t hurt to get them, they can at least be extras on a DVD someday. (Always my plan.) And I’ve already interviewed a few people I might never have a chance to interview again.

Dark Train Station

Preparing to enter the real Europe again, not the tourist dream. A train station in France 2012.

So where am I? Well I’ve connected with my dear puppetry friend Paulette Caron and she will be assisting with on site translations. I’ve contacted Nicolas Géal at Toone Marionette Théâtre and Dimitri Jageneau in Brussels, Belgium. And will be setting up a real date in the first ten days of February. The Brothers Quay have already agreed. And I’m waiting to hear back from from the Gadagne Museum in Lyon, they’ve changed directors. Sadly I won’t be visiting Nantes to see the giant puppets of Royal de Luxe. They will be performing a show elsewhere. I’m also still debating whether I should stop in at Charleville-Meziérès to catch up with the International Puppet Institute and the school there (ESNAM). I’m definitely leaning towards doing so. And I’m also going to try to talk to folks at the Little Angel Theatre in London while I’m visiting. Not to forget visiting my guignoliste friends in Paris and few other possibilities.

I also have now definitely arranged a stop at my old stomping grounds in Huémoz Switzerland for a few weeks where I will be giving several lectures. One will be on puppet history and will be a follow up to the puppetry lecture on YouTube that has garnered nearly 9,000 hits thus far. (Not bad for something an hour and a half long!) Other lectures there will include survey of the world of Georgian music and dance, which tends to explode unsuspecting brain cells. A lecture about social networking and what Jacques Ellul called Horizontal Propaganda. And lastly a crazy audio visual display of the new and questionable idea of Conceptual Humanity, which will range from cosmetic surgery to hyper-real dolls and beyond.

Also while I’m in Switzerland I’ll stop into to see “The Swiss”. And discuss the project.

Romeo and Mercutio

Romeo and Mercutio from Brussels’ Toone Marionette Theatre’s 2012 farce of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Next after a personal stop in Berlin, which should also include puppets. In March I’ll end up for ten days in Prague and a couple of days in Plzeň in the Czech Republic. This will of course be a serious puppetry stop. But it’s far enough away that I haven’t arranged it all yet.

Likewise I will then fly to Georgia and capture a few puppets in Tbilisi and begin my more serious exploration of the musical culture there. But that’s too far ahead to give many details… but soon. I will then return to Paris in mid-April after three weeks in Georgia.

So what’s definite? I have the airplane tickets from Alaska to Paris and back. I have the plane from Prague to Tbilisi and back to Paris. I have hotels in Paris and Prague. I have places to stay near Paris, in Brussels, London (most likely), Plzeň (most likely), all of Switzerland. Hotels are needed for Lyon, and a few other stops. Lots of food. And the entire Georgian part of the trip is still a mystery… but there are good reasons for that. I still have to buy train tickets and that’s an expense. DO I have enough cash? That’s a good question. I think so but it will probably get tight. But essentially unless something very serious transpires prior to my journey I’m on my way January 18th and will return on the ferry to Haines, Alaska April 21st. How serious? Well back in 2005 when I started these puppet journeys I slipped on the ice and broke my wrist. I was on the plane with a cast in a week. That’s how serious. Follow us here on Gravity From Above. And thanks to everyone who have in many ways, both big and little, encouraged this project.

Bernard Laughs


Guignoliste Bernard of Les Petits Bouffons de Paris loses control while posing in front of one of his background paintings for their Guignol shows.

Keep your eye on this site. (Sign up for emails to your right.) I’m sure that given the problems that plague Europe right now this will be an eye-opening trip.

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska


One response

  1. So glad to read that your dream to return to Europe and the puppeteers is manifesting for you!!! It’s a worthy project and I hope to one day see your film about it all!!

    December 3, 2015 at 9:12 PM

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