We have all been obsessed with video clips and gifs of marionettes in action. Yes, you have been obsessed too. I know what’s inside your mind. A person who is talented in the arts of making visual music with this non-musical stringed instrument can transfix a crowd whether they are in a theater designed for such shows, or are street performers in a park, marionetting for coins.
Around here on this website of our real lives, we love all kinds of puppets, dolls, poppets, dummies, figurines, masks, and of course marionettes. We collect them! All of them! In fact, one of the biggest events of last year was that Dollissa met the marionette of her dreams while at a local neighborhood-wide yard sale.
I’d like to state that it is apparently wrong to refer to a marionette as a puppet because they are not just puppets, no matter what the ignorant dictionary definition of a puppet insists. No matter what certain marionette theaters I am linking the videos of throughout the rest of this post say. The obvious marionettist snob who wrote the page about marionettes on Wikipedia made sure to make that clear. It makes sense that they desire precision in language just as they need precision in their artistry. Marionettes are more refined and require more skills. Marionettes are to puppetry as ballet is to dancing. It is an exquisite talent. It is soul-achingly beautiful. I’m sure there is a lot about it that is a revered art, even more revered than ventriloquism.
Marionettestry is clearly impressive, as anyone knows who has tangled up the simplest three string offering. We keep threatening to dabble in the world of skillfully making these things too, but we haven’t yet. Shame on us, I know. One of the primary things which scares me off from creating my own marionettes is that it seems like learning to make the mechanism that controls the strings is difficult all by itself. I don’t have time to gain experience through trial and error! My first marionette has to be flawless, or else!! And so does my first marionette performance!
I do plan to learn to master it as though I live in the 1700s and am an apprentice who has a lifetime of work before her — but maybe just during this summer or next. Do all of my posts become diary entries? I really need to put on these marionette plays and act out my plans before an audience instead of only writing about them. Just like I need to substitute therapy with a distressing ventriloquist routine for an uncomfortable audience. But one thing at a time!
Like puppets, Muppets, and Tiny Fuppets, — but unlike the dummies — marionettes are generally well-regarded, although they can and should inspire a little unease here and there. Mostly, I find the unease arises if the marionettist is TOO skilled, and can make that little puppet dance better than any naturally talented person. The unease also can arise if they can take a flap of cloth and make it seem like not only is it alive but also it contains a skeleton form suddenly.
Marionettes have been around since the ancient times with Greeks and Egyptians enjoying their antics as a form of entertainment. Very probably the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth, watched marionettes with his holy eyes, so we can surmise that unlike ventriloquism, this puppetry is blessed.
I know that Pinocchio is the most deranged and demonic of all classic Disney films, made worse and more cursed with each iteration, but surprise! It turns out to be blessed! Ordinary marionette figures glide on angel clouds and their strings are pulled all the way from Heaven! When a marionettist puts his or her soul into the tiny body below, he or she gets the soul back once the marionette is put away! This is all in contrast to those ventriloquist dummies who keep the soul once they take it and corrupt it. A ventriloquist dummy seldom gives a soul back — at least not in one piece.
In the city of Cincinnati, which is about a mile away from Sneer HQ, there is a highly-regarded marionette company called Frisch Marionettes. Another of my greatest regrets in life is that around the time I realized their importance, a certain pandemic hit and I still feel uncomfortable sitting in a crowd of open-mouthed coughing little kids, which for some reason seems to be their target audience for some reason. Even before 2020, I tried to avoid their sugar germs. Anyway, I have watched several youtube samples from them and I need them in my life. Some way, some how. Maybe I’ll brave a show, or maybe they will do some nice open air performances in a park near to me. Frisch Marionettes, heed my cry!
I’m going to cut this short because as usual I keep thinking of things to say about the Vent Haven Museum and ventriloquism. To have Frisch and Vent Haven both as my friends would be wonderful. I wonder if they get along? Are Frisch Marionettes snooty? I think they have every right to be. But mostly, the entire point of writing all these words was actually so that I had a reason to share with you this amazing movie I watched a few years ago, and again as I wrote this. It started my latest craze for marionettes which will never subside.
This film is a chef’s kiss blown right into my happily beating heart. The scenes of marionette women casting catty remarks at each other and fighting like they are in Dynasty bring light into my life. I learned about a terrible time in my favorite time period, and I was consumed with jealousy for not already pouring all of my energy into making things like this! Who are these people how do they have so much energy and focus! Are they geniuses or are they geniuses on drugs?
Maybe I should ask.