Puppetry is a theater of stuff, and, as puppeteers, we are in love with stuff. Whether your studio’s walls are lined with neat, metal shelves stacked with tidy bins of folded fabrics, turned wooden spheres and polyfoam sheets arranged by thickness, or boasts a collection of rickety folding tables rescued from the dump and piled high with feathers, bones and the inspiring detritus culled from gutters or cast up by the sea, it is all the stuff of dreams, the palette of colors from which the numinous will be made manifest.
This issue is brim belay full of stuff, as some of the world’s most experienced puppeteers write with authority and reverence about wood, foam, paper, wool, cloth and salt. These are the materials from which our puppets are made (Bonnie Erickson shares her experiences of creating from foam such beloved characters as Miss Piggy, page 41), or act as metaphors for psychological conflict (Philippe Genty explores the unlikely combination of Kraft paper and hugs, page 18) or are the subjects of our dramas (Lisa Sturz remembers The Mystery of the Salt Crystal, an en- tire play about versatile, indispensable crystalline NaCl, page 47).
2016 marks fifty years since the founding of UNIMA-USA. It is a good time for taking stock. UNIMA-USA plays an increasingly important role in the international organization. Our president, Manuel Moran, is also the vice president of UNIMA and the head of the North American commission, and he stands on the shoulders of such giants as Jim Henson, Nancy Staub, Allelu Kurten, Vince Anthony and others who’ve given so much to the cause of international friendship and understanding through the art of puppetry. We will be featuring our half-century anniversary in the fall issue of Puppetry International.
On a personal note, Bonnie and I recently learned that we have been nominated Members of Honor of UNIMA. Thanks to some very generous donors in the puppetry community, both of us will be able to attend the 22nd UNIMA Congress and World Puppet Festival in Spain, May 29-June 3, to accept the honor personally. You should come, too! For now, you can visit our newly re-designed website, read about our history and meet UNIMA-USA’s other Members of Honor.
-Andrew C. Periale