—From EF—

Our puppets, the creatures of Conrad’s imagination and skilled hands, are now on display at the Occidental Center for the Arts (3850 Doris Mitchell Ct., Occidental), each one has a price tag set by OCA, which will keep all the proceeds to support its activities. We made a deed of gift for the whole shebang, and are appreciating the unique experience of being Benefactors.

We accumulated these fellow-actors over the course of many years, and they are in some real way family members. Our own human kids went off to college and marrriage and the rest of their lives, but are still very present in our hearts. I find it comforting to know that the puppets are now going off to their own lives too.

At Thanksgiving, our son and daughter took an afternoon in our studio to look at all the immense array of puppets occuping the floor wall-to-wall, making their own claims on those to be kept for them. I took photos of all the ones that wound up with a piece of masking tape on their nose, saying “E” or “J”, and they’re still with us in bins, waiting to be inherited.

There’s one, though, that isn’t in a bin. He wouldn’t fit. When we wrote a play based on the trial of Marie Antoinette, we needed a King Louis. He had to be big enough to play scenes with Marie, so we built a comfy foam-rubber body with arms, legs, and a flat butt to enable sitting on a stool. Conrad sculpted his goofy, affable head, and we had our Louis. In a marvel of physical ingenuity, we figured out how to hold and animate him while playing scenes.

Then the play was over, but Louis refused to go into storage. He just hung out at the theatre and wound up in the damndest places. He even played in New York when we collaborated with Jean Cocteau Rep for a revival. But his finest hours were with the workmen who were renovating our Lancaster PA theatre in 1985/86. They always arrived early in the morning, hours before we showed up, and we never knew where we’d find Louis. Once he was sitting in one of our pricey new theatre seats, fifth row center, with his crossed feet on the seat in front of him. He was wearing a baseball cap and had an unlit cigarette in his mouth.

Right now he’s napping on top of what used to be our little soundproof recording room. As soon as we clean up our studio and put away the empty bins, I’m gonna get down and sit him in an armchair. He can keep me company while I write. And if nobody’s looking, I’ll hug him.





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