Puppets and marionettes are among the world’s oldest entertainments.
Though today associated with humorous children’s programming, they are equally capable of evoking the tender and moving. Indeed, the word “marionette,” which arose during the Middle Ages, is thought to derive from “Mary,” a reference to popular nativity plays.
This month, master puppeteer Joseph Cashore and his Cashore Marionettes will present Simple Gifts, a series of quiet, everyday vignettes set to classical music, as part of Edison Theatre’s ovations for young people series at Washington University in St. Louis.
Tickets to the performance, which will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, are $12 and are available at the Edison Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
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An accomplished artist as well as puppeteer, Cashore built his first marionette at age 11, from clothespins, wood string and a tin can.
His second marionette came years later, after graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor of fine arts degree. Attempting to recapture his youthful sense of movement and life, Cashore quickly realized that the fluid motions he sought would require devising unique control designs.
Over the next 19 years, while also pursuing a career in oil painting, Cashore developed totally new control mechanisms and continued to experiment with the construction of his marionettes, their clothing and props. He began performing full-time in 1990 and has since appeared across North America, Europe and Asia.
In Simple Gifts, his latest show, Cashore enacts a series of original vignettes drawn from everyday life. Set to music of Vivaldi, Strauss, Beethoven and Copland, these touching, poignant and sometimes humorous scenes unfold with a dazzling combination of virtuoso manipulation, theatrical illusion and artistic insight, providing audiences with an entertaining and sensitive vision of what it means to be human.
The Calgary Herald praised Simple Gifts as a “brilliant production that carries the audience through a range of feelings,” adding that “this show is highly recommended even for adults who don’t happen to have kids.”
Cashore’s numerous honors include a Citation of Excellence from the Union Internationale de la Marionnette — the highest honor an American puppeteer can receive — as well as a Henson Foundation Grant to promote puppetry to adult audiences and a Fellowship for Performance Art from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
ovations for young people
The ovations for young people series will continue Saturday, March 3, with Ballet Hispanico in ¡Viajes!, an all-ages exploration of Latin American and Caribbean dance forms.
Concluding the 2011-12 series, on Saturday, May 5, will be Montreal’s Dynamo Theatre with Mur-Mur (The Wall), an acrobatic exploration of friendship and young love.
Edison Ovations Series
Founded in 1973, the Edison Ovations Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis.
Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors.
The Ovations season is supported by The Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.