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REVIEWS

"Blake has managed to make this video work with at least two audiences -- people who have no idea what a Puppet Festival is all about, and people who do."
GO READ MORE: "THE PUPPETRY JOURNAL" Winter, 2002

"A feast for puppetry fans.... "
GO READ MORE: "VIDEO LIBRARIAN" January/February 2002

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BACKGROUND
WARNER BY KIT
WARNER BLAKE BY KIT DAWSON
	

As an interdisciplinary artist fascinated by the dramatic possibilities of puppets, I've always been curious about the national festivals held every other year by the Puppeteers of America organization in various parts of the country. But the cost's add up to attend - travel, registration fees, board and room -- besides, the festival's had a word of mouth as something more for those doing puppetry for children. However, when it came to the University of Washington's Seattle campus in August 1999, I hit up my friends Chris and Stephen Carter, who were the festival directors, for a free registration, telling them that I planed on making a documentary of the festival. So, with a rented Canon XL1 video camera from the 911 Media Arts Center, I set out to discover what it's like to attend a national puppetry festival.

FEATURED ARTISTS
PUPPET FESTIVAL STILL
HUNG YI QUE BIKER
PUPPET FESTIVAL STILL
HUNG YI QUE WORKSHOP
PUPPET FESTIVAL STILL
THUMBELINA
PUPPET FESTIVAL STILL
PAUL MESNER
PUPPET FESTIVAL STILL
PIGGERY JOKERY
PUPPET FESTIVAL STILL
YANG FENG
PUPPET FESTIVAL STILL
GERTRUDE SHOW
PUPPET FESTIVAL STILL
ISIDOR'S CHEEK

OUR DOCUMENTARY FOLLOWS THE STRUCTURE OF A PUPPET FESTIVAL beginning with registration and the first look at your room to the good-byes a week later. And just like attending a festival in person, we didn't get see to everything but had to make choices, part subjective, and part educational with a goal to provide the viewer with a wide variety of puppetry styles.

A FAVORITE was the amazing solo marionette work of HUANG YI QUE in his first visit to the United States. Now in his 70's, he has been the leading performer for the Quanzhou Puppet Troupe of China since its formation when he was young adult. Our movie shows this generous artist both performing and demonstrating his skills close-up in a workshop setting.

THE OREGON SHADOW THEATER presents an outstanding sample of shadow puppetry with their award-winning musical play THUMBELINA; and includes an informative interview with artist DEB CHASE. Her musical [and life] partner, MICK DOHERTY, provided the original music for the documentary.

THE PAUL MESNER PUPPETS from Kansas City presented his popular, award-winning SLEEPING BEAUTY at the festival as imagined by this virtuoso performer; and was captured from both the house and backstage.

HAND TO MOUTH THEATRE brought their unique walkabout theater show from England, which features live music by Su Eaton. Our documentary includes an interview with her partner, puppeteer Martin Bridle.

YANG FENG is a fifth generation hand puppeteer, which makes his daughter YANG XIE ZHENG the sixth generation to join the oldest traditional Chinese performing family in continuous operation. Together they perform THE WEST GATE, which is also captured from both the front of the house and backstage; plus, there is a interview with YANG XIE ZHENG and a captivating visit to YANG FENG's puppet manipulation workshop.  
GO MORE ABOUT YANG FENG

YAYA COULIBALY and TROOP SOGOLON from Mali, West Africa, present TRADITIONAL FOLK TALES AND LEGENDS which includes a wide variety of puppet styles, and of course, lots of drumming and audience participation -- a performance rarely captured on film.

ARIELY AND INBAR live in Tel Aviv, Israel, but have been traveling the world with their indescribable GERTRUDE SHOW -- this unique footage includes an interview with both women artists.

THE WELL REGARDED SANDGLASS THEATER from Putney, Vermont, brought their award-winning show, ISIDOR'S CHEEK, in which Inez Zeller Bass gives an intimate performance in a most charming variation of tabletop theater.

OUR DOCUMENTARY ENDS, as did the festival, with THE MILLENIUM PARADE, then the PUNCH AND JUDY FAIR, where we take the opportunity to talk with many festival participants about their reaction to the festival. The only drawback to this movie is that we could not include all of the wonderful artists that indeed made this a Festival of the Millennium.

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