Marionettes for ‘La Guida di Bragia’ featured in Art Doll Quarterly

Lewis Carroll came from a large family, and got his start in children’s entertainment and storytelling by writing for and staging plays with his siblings. One surviving example is the puppet play La Guida di Bragia, dating from the early 1850’s. The LCSNA published the text in 2007 with illustrations by Jonathan Dixon – available here for $25. Dixon also spoke at the LCSNA’s Spring 2009 meeting in Santa Fe, followed by a marionette performance staged by Theaterwork’s artistic director David Olson. Good Times! “Together with LCSNA’s multi-talented Jonathan Dixon, Olson talked about the marionette play we would see in the evening:  how children’s dolls, rescued from the local Goodwill  store, were turned into doll puppets  representing the characters of Mooney, Spooney, Sophonisba, and her husband Orlando.” Here’s a photo:

 

Image from the Table of Contents for the Summer 2012 Art Doll Quarterly

This year, more American puppeteers have tackled La Guida di Bragia. Diane Lewis, who works at the Theatre Arts Department at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, collaborated with her students to create marionettes for the play, and they have been featured in the Summer 2012 edition of Art Doll Quarterly. The article “Characters Behind the Curtain: Instructor Offers History along with the Magic of the Puppet,” by Mozelle Sukut, included “several large illustrations, and descriptions of Lewis’ techniques, philosophy, research, teaching methods, etc.” (reports Mark Richards of the UK Lewis Carroll Society.) The show was never produced, but the marionettes are very charming.

 

Mrs. Muddles from La Guida di Bragia, from the website of Monique Rea, mfrartwork.com

A photo of the marionettes from La Guida di Bragia, on display at Mission Viejo’s Arts ALIVE Festival

Carroll & Coleridge in the Year 2111

We posted an excerpt from Adam Feldman’s excellent Jabberwockyesque panning of Broadway’s Wonderland a few weeks ago. This week, it’s Coleridge being echoed to criticize a new production called The Trial of the Mariner at Hoxton Hall in London:

It is The Trial of the Mariner,
And it occurs at Hoxton Hall,
A curious tale, told at full sail,
About the threat of plastic sprawl.

[…]

The set’s all recycled, reclaimed,
Singing and acrobatics abound.
The Junk Orchestra provides music,
Using scrap to make ingenius sound.

The Ship of Fools is rubbish too,
Volunteers and Lotos Collective made it from trash.
It navigates around the audience,
Beware: you and the crew might clash.

Because this is interactive theatre!
Accept bananas, make thunder, stay on your feet;
This isn’t for you, if you prefer to do
Theatre with an interval, three acts and red velvet seat.

-Hazel, londonist.com

The play actually seems very intriguing, maybe it just wasn’t that reviewer’s clean cup of tea. The Trial of the Mariner is “an interactive, multimedia performance looking at the future of our oceans” inspired by both The Hunting of the Snark and S.T. Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” “The year is 2111, and a group of desperate sailors embark on a voyage on the Ship of Fools. Lost at sea and mad with cabin fever, they arrive at the Plastic Continent of the Pacific Ocean Gyre, where the unhinged Mariner’s adventures come to life.” There’s still three more performances, closing on the 21st.