January 28, 2013

Puppet movers, shakers create lively art scene

Portland grabs a national spotlight as a center for theatrical puppetry for adults.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Blainor McGough, executive director of Mayo Street Arts in Portland, will use some of these marionettes in an upcoming production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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John Farrell of Figures of Speech Theatre in Freeport with a giant puppet he created to portray the witch Sycorax in “The Tempest.” Farrell and his wife, Carol, were among the first puppet theater artists based in Maine and have taken their performances around the world.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below



WHEN: 6 p.m. Feb. 17, March 31 and April 28, and the last Sunday of every month for the rest of the year

WHERE: Acorn Studios, 90 Bridge St., Westbrook

COST: Pay what you can; suggested donation of $10

INFO: improvisedpuppetproject.com


WHEN: Shows are between March 10 and April 28; exact dates to be announced. Shows will include local and national puppet acts.

WHERE: Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland

COST: To be determined

INFO: mayostreetarts.org


WHEN: 2 p.m. June 29

WHERE: Portland Performing Arts Festival, exact location to be announced

COST: To be determined

INFO: portlandfestival.org

But in recent years, the economy has affected their work -- particularly their paid work in schools -- and Carol Farrell recently took a job at Bates College in Lewiston.

Marcus has made money by making puppets and masks for theater productions, especially in Boston. And like McGough and other puppeteers, she looks for grants when she can find them.

With help from a grant from Puppeteers of America, she's working on a production based on the work of Samuel Beckett using marionettes, rights pending.

Marcus points out that because of the relatively small population base in Portland compared with New York or Boston, it's hard to say how sustainable the puppet scene here is, both in terms of audience demand and how puppeteers make a living.

But for now, the people involved in the performing art remain passionate and energized to continue the work they love.

"I feel very lucky to be able to do this, and to see so many people younger than me really excited and knowledgeable about puppets," said Endy. "Portland seems to be disproportionately blessed. We don't have every kind of (arts) scene, but if we do have one, it's really, really good. And I think it's that way with puppets." 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Students Sarah Grace, left, and Charlotte Spritz work on producing a film version of “Frankenstein” using small paper puppets at Figures of Speech Theatre in Freeport.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer


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