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Puppeteers' Cooperative and Its Puppet Free Lending Library in New York City

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 7/28/2007, updated 11/20/2010 - www.Littleviews.com ]

November 2010: While our exclusive account on FotoTime has expired, you can still view 52 photos from the Puppeteer's Cooperative Puppet Free Lennding Library posted there. The article below refers to pictures in that photo-sharing gallery by number.

To see 18 photos from that exhibit posted on Littleviews.com, go to Photos of Giant Puppets Created By the Puppeteers' Cooperative.

You might also be interested in seeing a November 20, 2010, Littleviews article entitled Giant Puppets on Parade as Seen in Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.

Puppeteers' Cooperative Giant Blue Woman Puppet

The Puppeteers' Cooperative is a theatrical group that specializes in creating and manning giant puppets and banners used in pageants, plays, processions, parades, and parties. They generously share information about building these giants in a self-published book entitled 68 Ways to Make Really Big Puppets (Photo 52).

How big? Puppets twenty feet and up, like the Blue Faced Woman seen here, are considered petite!

Of course, once a puppet giant is created and appears in public, it becomes alive, much like Pinocchio. For the sake of the puppet's soul and the general public who need ways to entertain at parties and pageants, the Cooperative founded the Amalgamated Puppet Libraries, better known as The Puppet Free Lending Library, where old puppets never die; they are simply reused!

Between 2005 and 2007, one such Puppet Free Lending Library was housed in the Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn Arch, a beautiful building constructed to honor civil war soldiers. The arch set the stage for a puppet display as it is adorned with lively brass statues, including an array of leaping horses on top, and war scenes on the front.

Brooklyn ArchThe Brooklyn Arch has two columns, both of which contain steep, narrow, spiral staircases that lead to a gallery across the top. The Puppet Free Lending Library was housed in the column pictured on the right. Plays were held in the upper gallery.

While the Coop is known for making puppets and putting on theatrical events, it is less known for its ability to curate artistic displays. During the mid-2000s, library did, indeed, lend out puppets, more noteworthy is that it created an art exhibit that rivaled in beauty and imagination anything I've seen in Manhattan or Paris.

The exhibit lined a very steep, spiral staircase and to see it was a challenge. If you climbed all the way to the top, you were, indeed, physically fit. For a glimpse of its width and depth, see Photos 9, 11, 28, and 45.

Puppets were draped from the walls surrounding the staircase. While you might think that making giant puppets takes skill, the staging of these puppets in the steep pit surrounding the stairwell was amazing. I assume that none of the puppeteers involved suffered from vertigo!

Puppeteer's Cooperative Big Eyed BirdThe majority of puppets were made of paper mache and old cloth. Even though these materials are cheap, the artistic results were outstandingly beautiful. How beautiful? Well, I would not have been able to take so many good photos had the puppets been drab, poorly hung, and disproportionate.

Contact the Puppeteers' Cooperative

Whether you need puppets for your own theatrical event, staging, or exhibits, or want classes on how to make puppets (great for schools), the Cooperative's site at www.gis.net/~puppetco provides links to member puppeteers and their creative work.

To hire puppeteers or build or borrow puppets, email puppetco@gis.net, or call Theresa Linnihan (718 853-7350) in Brooklyn, or Sara Peattie (617 263-2031) in Boston.

December 2007 update:
The contract with Prospect Park ended in December 2007, at which point the Cooperative lost the temporary storage space for the puppets that once comprised the New York Puppet Library.

Questions? Just ask!
Karen Little

Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 7/28/2007. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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