Artist Talkback: The Tanglewood Marionettes

 
Founded in 1993 by Anne Ware and Peter Schaefer, The Tanglewood Marionettes is a nationally touring marionette theater based in New England.  As a company, they have performed at The Children's Museum in Boston, The Yale Art Gallery, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and many other local peformance spaces.  At TCAN, the Tanglewood Marionettes will be presenting the classic story of "Cinderella", followed by an hour long puppeteering workshop, where students 8 and up will learn the basics of puppeteering with professional marionettes.
 
We spoke to Anne Ware about her life as a Puppet Master, and what audiences at TCAN can expect from the show.
 
 
When did you know that you wanted to be a performer?  Did performing play a role in your childhood? 
 
My mother has a photograph of me performing a puppet show for my siblings when I was about four years old.  Other than this, though, I didn't have any childhood ambitions to be on stage.  I was pretty shy, and being the object of many eyes was not something I enjoyed.  My husband, Peter, is Tanglewood Marionettes' lead puppeteer.  Peter had more of a traditional puppeteer's upbringing: his parents were both teachers and puppeteers, and Peter's father ran the Theater Department at Peter's high school.  So, Peter has puppetry in the blood!
 
What attracted you to working with puppets?
 
I studied art in college, and wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go in after graduation.  I found what I thought would be a summer job working with the Bennington Marionettes, a puppet company out of Bennington, VT.  The summer job turned into a full-time job, and then led to Peter and I forming our own company in 1993.  There are many things that I love about puppets, but the thing I think I love the most about them is that they allow you to tell stories in a really magical way.  They are also a perfect way for a shy person to open up and perform, as all eyes are on the puppet, and not the puppeteer.
 
What makes puppeteering different from other types of performance art?
 
The only thing different about puppetry versus other types of performance art is the tools that the performer is using to tell the story.  I think puppetry is closer to dance, or to mime, than it is to traditional plays done with humans on a stage.  A puppet must use broad and stylized movements to portray its thoughts and feelings, and can't rely on the more subtle vocal inflections, and facial expressions that human actors can employ.  Interestingly, if the puppeteer is doing a bang-up job, the audience's imaginations will give the puppets the appropriate facial expression, which is another magical thing about puppets!
 
What can kids expect if they sign up for the workshop following the show?  What is your favorite part about the workshop?
 
The fun thing about our workshop is that it will give participants a chance to work with professional-quality marionettes.  These marionettes are carefully constructed and strung to allow for realistic movements, which is not something that you typically find with toy marionettes.  My favorite part of the workshop is the "Dance Off" at the end, where all the participants get to show off their marionette moves to a selection of dance hits!  
 
If you weren’t performing, what other occupation might you have?
 
Gosh, I can't imagine doing anything else!  Puppetry is my life's work. 
 
Haven't bought your tickets yet?  Get them here!  If you're over 8 years old, you can also sign up to be a part of the post-show workshop.