Setting Up a Marionette Theater in Miniature is a Major Task

UPDATE NOTE: It’s been a fantastic week for us as we’ve made the front cover of The Chicago Sun-Times! Dave Hoekstra wrote an amazing piece laying out the importance of this discovery for Ralph and Marilyn, for Chicago and for the world of art. Read Dave’s story here.

I had just returned from an eight-day vacation in Rochester, NY. As usual the trip tired me out as I was dashing about visiting family and friends and having a fine time. It was a working holiday, however, as the Kickstarter campaign began while I was away from Chicago and we were off to try saving The Lost Marionettes of Ralph Kipniss.

Two days after returning to Chicago, I trekked to The Main Street Theatre in Michigan City, IN to help Ralph Kipniss and Marilyn Giedraitis with some technical duties thrust upon me literally at the last minute. They needed

not only helpers to build and to dismantle 15-ft. scaffolding, lighting and wooden sets but also to operate lighting and music during the 45 minute presentation of “Pinocchio.”

There’s really no way to comprehend all the work needed to stage a

Set up crew:

Set up crew (l-r): Edwin Delvalle, Maxwell Mattison, Dee Materis, Ralph Kipniss, Preston Wollner, Juan Aguilar, Marilyn Giedraitis. Taking photo: Joseph R. Lewis

production like this. The tear down and storing of all the staging and equipment took 5 hours last Saturday–and the tear down was the easier part. Luckily, Ralph and Marilyn were able to rely on two almost entirely different sets of crews for building and dismantling. They also had the help of their talented apprentices Preston Wollner and Juan Aguilar. Both did their best to fill me in on lighting cues, spotting the “Blue Fairy” and operating the iTunes directory for the soundtrack. Thankfully, Dee Materis was able to convince Jason Scovel, who’s had some expertise in stage equipment, to provide much needed additional muscle after the show.

After that rainy evening and while riding back home to Chicago thoroughly exhausted, I was able to appreciate all the hard work Ralph and Marilyn put in for the sake of audiences everywhere. Whether it was the dozen or so who showed up at Main Street Theatre or the 400 kids entertained by the dragon and Can Can marionettes the following week. The hard work is all for the smiles, laughter and applause. It’s a good reason to be tired.

Legendary Lew

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