Director Julie Taymor is one of the biggest directors on Broadway. When she accepted a Tony Award, Mary Peterson is the first person she thanked.
Mary Peterson is a seasoned puppeteer and is leading puppet-making and puppet-movement workshops for the Old Town Playhouse starting February 2. She's also going to give workshops on costume design and working in the professional theater.
But let's focus on her puppet work. After all, the art of puppetry gets short shrift in this country. When you say puppetry - many only think of the Muppets or round-headed puppets covered in fun fur on cheap kids' shows.
Mary Peterson reminded us there's much more to the puppetry art than we usually think of.
Mary says, "We've kind of narrowed our vision of what a puppet is because of what we've seen commercially for the past 25, 30 years on television. Even marionettes have kind of gone by the wayside here in the U.S. or in the Western world and they're still very popular if you go to Austria, if you go to the Mozart Theatre and the marionette in theater there is amazing how naturalistically those puppets can be manipulated."
Mary Peterson will also demonstrate the importance of manipulating puppets. And she'll talk about the original uses of puppet shows - uses that go back centuries.
Mary says, "I think what's happened is somewhere along the line we here in our culture decided that puppets were really only for children and so then we began to cater to that audience and what we've lost track of is in all our other cultures, all of the older cultures, puppetry was a means, it was originally a means of telling stories, continuing fables, kind of talking about upcoming hunts or things like that and it was a way of conveying information and entertaining and imparting news to illiterate people."
The puppet construction workshops take place February 2, 5 and 6. You may show up and watch if you don't wish to make a puppet. Mary Peterson will also give a costume design workshop February 3 and a talk about her professional career February 7.
These workshops by Mary Peterson are taking place in conjunction with the upcoming Old Town Playhouse production of "Dr. Dolittle" which opens on March 2.