It is sad news that we hear of the death of Dezsőo Szilágyi. He died on 8 March 2010 aged 88.
Dezsőo, for many years, had been a great friend and constant support. In the early 1960s he introduced me to Gyula Urban, young actor director in Allami Bábszínház and former student of Jan Malik in Prague. This led to regular visits to the theatre and I became very close friends with Dezsőo, Kato Szony – who was like my Hungarian mother – and Ivan Koos, designer. Dezsőo was one of the most kind and gentle people that I have known, and many years of collaboration with him during the time that he was President of the Publications Commission of UNIMA was a great joy. Read more here
John M. Blundall
This is a stunningly beautiful large coffee table book based on the museum and Collection of Paul Lin in Taiwan. It provides a unique picture of the professional and diverse range of Asian puppet theatre culture with 347 photographic illustrations including 234 of some of the finest colour photographs of puppets by Wang Hanshun I have seen.
D. Paul Lin, Founder of the Taiyuan Arts and Culture Foundation and a tireless promoter of Taiwanese culture established the TTT Puppet Centre in with its director Dr. Robin Ruezendaal in 2002, In 2005 the Centre moved into a new and permanent home. Housing the collection, a theatre and educational facilities, it also houses a residential performing company that has made tours to many parts of the world…………Click for More
John M. Blundall
On June 29th 2009 a Definitive Special Limited Edition of ‘Fireball XL5’was released on six DVDs, all 39episodes of ‘Fireball XL5’, plus ‘Wonderland of Stardust’, a new documentary about the programmes featuring a number of the original creative team, ‘Drawn in Supermarionation’, an exclusive documentary of the comic strip adaptations of the AP Films featuring the artists that created the art work.
‘A Day in the Life of a Space General’, a new first full length colourised episode of ‘Fireball XL5’ taken from a HD transfer of the original film.
There is also a well illustrated commemorative book outlining many aspects of the series in the box set.
‘Fireball XL5’ is memorable for a wide range of curious creatures and fantasy characters. I created ‘Robert the Robot’, ‘Professor Matic’, and ‘Zoony the Lazoon’ three of the main characters. The collection contains a number of interesting items from the series and are seen in the documentary on the making of programmes.
John M. Blundall
It was with great sadness we learnt that our friend Aquio Nishida passed away at the begining of February 2009 . Aquio was a designer of toys and automata, museum curator and author. His beautifully crafted work was full of humour and fun.
His museum in Arima, near Kobe was also full of fun and laughter. He surrounded himself with young and enthusiastic staff who filled the museum with life. Children would sit spellbound as Aquio and his staff showed them different toys and puzzles from around the world.
Aquio invited us to Japan in 2004 after commissioning 4 automata for his museum. It was thanks to him that we got the opportunity to meet Noh mask carver Baku Adachi for the first time.
It was a pleasure and privilege to have known Aquio and we are eternally grateful for all he did for us. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.
If you were one of the many successful bidders at the auction on Sunday the 30th March, then you may have an extra unwanted freebie courtesy of the MAC store. The conservation team at Glasgow Museums have found moth activity on a number of the puppet we have brought up from Birmingham. We would advise that you check any puppets you have bought for moths especially if they will be amongst other puppets or fabrics. Freezing is an effective way of killing off the moths but for more information you can follow this link
The recent Ofcom review of the future of children’s television has made it starkly clear that production of children’s programmes made in the UK about the lives and concerns of British Kids is in dramatic decline. The Shocking statistic is that of all the programmes shown on the many channels for children in this country only 1% are new programmes made in the UK! With the BBC cutting back, ITV, Channel 4 out of the market for kids content, and five scaling back it’s programmes to cater for only pre-school children, there is very little programming being commissioned from producers in the UK who were renoknowed as some of the best of the world. Save Kid’s TV has been working on a comprehensive plan to secure the future of quality media for Kids in the UK. To find out more about the campaign – sign the online petition and spread word of support please visit the following link -
The death of Marcel Marceau was announced on Saturday September 22nd 2007. He was 84.
Marceau had a great love of the puppet theatre and frequently expressed in interest in it. He once wrote an introduction to a German book on the puppet theatre by Tankred Dorst, ‘Gerheimnis der Marionette‘. My copy has an inscribed photograph of Marceau that I was given many years ago.
With Jean Louis Barrault he developed the system of the ‘pantomime blanc’. The basic techniques of the imagination for a mime are a number of fixed-point exercises, the most well known, the invisible wall, and the manipulation of the baton. These are two of the most useful skills and disciplines for the puppeteer performer to master. Because the puppeteer manipulates the puppet on an imaginary floor level, the invisible wall exercise, or at least the top of the wall, is of most importance to give logic to the walk of the puppet, particularly hand and rod puppets. It helps to develop consistency in working on imaginary ground levels.
He was a kind and gentle personality, and his silent language made his art accessible to everyone. He was a great influence on the development of a better public understanding and popularity of mime, he also inspired many young, and aspiring mime performers. His stage character ‘Bip’ became well known all over the world through his extensive tours. His performances were always a pleasure to watch; simple, direct and clearly defined, both comic and tragic.
Marceau’s main inspiration came from the stars of silent film, particularly Charles Chaplin, and Buster Keaton, and his work was seen to be related to the tradition of the 19th century characters Harlequin, and Pierrot – Little Peter ‘The child of the world’. The foundation of his formal theatrical training took place in Charles Dullin’s famous School of Dramatic art, and his studies under the tutelage of the legendary mime Etienne Decroux. For many years, he also had a school where he passed on his skills as a creator and performer of silent poetry.
John M. Blundall
Anyone who has seen the extraordinary performances of the marionette performers from Quanzhou is left without any doubt that they are the finest in the world. Some years ago whilst I was undertaking a study of puppet theatre in China for the Ministry of Culture, my stay in The Quanzhou Marionette Theatre was certainly the most inspiring.
This new book ‘Marionette Theatre in Quanzhou’, by Robin Ruizendaal, published by Brill, is the most important and exhaustive on the subject. Through the 470 pages of the book every minute detail is explored and explained.
The Fujian region of China, in which Quanzhou exists, is one of the oldest and richest in terms of the puppeteers art. This new book deals with the early origins and the sources of the repertoire, and the marionette theatre companies and musicians. From the Tang to late Quing, and the Republican period. Then concentrates on three companies from 1949 to 2003.
The education of the puppet theatre is analysed, including the now closed Quanzhou Art School teaching programme, course and structure. This is followed by in-depth accounts of puppets construction and manipulation, and the stage, repertoire and performance context, a ritual prelude. The book finally looks at thoughts on the future of research into the art and craft, translated plays, and an exhaustive bibliography, collected manuscripts, and audio visual material.
‘Marionette Theatre in Quanzhou’, by Robin Ruizendaal, published By Brill. ISBN 9789004151048. Series number SINL.073. List price EUR 120. List price US$ 161.
John M. Blundall
During the recent ‘Annual, ‘Aye Write Festival,’ in The Mitchell Library, Glasgow, ‘Septimus Pitt and the Grumbleoids,’ a new book of poems for children was launched. The author, Brian Whittingham observed interesting characters in and around Glasgow, and, unknown to us, he saw a performance of our ‘An Illusion of Life,’ and was inspired to write an illustrated poem about us, with the title, ‘The Retired Puppeteer‘, The first public reading of poems from the book was accompanied by a short performance by Stephen Foster, and his recently completed ‘Pierrot, ‘The Worlds Child’.
‘Progressive Traditions’ An Illustrated Study of Plot Repetition in Traditional Japanese Theatre. By Helen Parker. From Brill’s Japanese Studies Library. Volume 22. Published 2002.
This monograph with accompanying CD-ROM explores through plot repetition the relationships between three genres of Japanese theatre, No, Kabuki, and ningyo-joruri, with a focus on plays depending on final fugitive years of Minamoto Yoshitsune.
First, the theoretical background to the concept of plot repetition is discussed and the theme of Yoshitsune’s downfall is introduced. The next and main section analyses the treatment of the Funabenkei and Ataka//Kanjincho plots. In the three genres, with references to their historical development and contemporary performance.
The CD-ROM contains video clips, photographs and nishiki-e prints from productions in each genre to illustrate how the plots are presented on stage.
‘Progressive Traditions’ is an important and scholarly work that gives a fascinating insight into the links between the Noh theatre, Kabuki, and Ningyo Joruri, better known to puppeteers as Bunraku.
John M. Blundall