This project is temporarily on hiatus and will be relaunched in a good wee bit replete with an introduction video - revised goals & rewards - and accompanying publicity materials... an updated link will be added at that time. Check back in a few weeks!
Also, I just found out that I'm a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge finalist - 1 of 57 out of over 1200 (woo hoo!!!) - and if that happens then I may have the opportunity to set up the touring antique marionette theater as a long term or even permanent South Florida program slated to reach approx. 20,000 to 50,000 audience members per year for the first two years alone. Wish me luck!
Milo Safran Fox
"I am so pleased that Mr. Fox is working to restore & preserve this
rare & wonderful collection of marionettes & stage from the
Lincoln Marionettes of the 1930s. It is unusual that both stage &
marionettes survive from a company of that time period. This is an
important historical preservation project that will allow future
generations to be entertained by these unique art pieces. I wish all
success to Mr. Fox & look forward to the day when I can see these
miniature thespians again performing as they did in the first half of
the 20th Century." - Phillip Huber, renowned marionette artist and creator of the mind boggling puppet scenes in Spike Jonze's film Being John Malkovich.
Hello, my name is Milo Fox and I'm a professional marionette puppeteer.
A year ago I was granted the largest marionette theater in the United States from the 1930s along with the theater's large cast of extremely rare trick marionettes (string puppets).
With My Kickstarter Project I'd Like To:
Restore & reassemble this rare antique marionette theater along with the best of the trick puppets . . .
Then build a marionette puppet show . . .
& Then truck it on over to parks, schools and theaters bringing the magic of marionette theater to disenfranchised & underfunded kids, families, youth living
with adverse life circumstances such as cancer, poverty, physical,
mental, and societal challenges, charities, schools, non-profits & curious passersby - as I did for 4 years with the City Parks Foundation in NYC where I performed for an official city estimate of 300,000 people (& 73,000 squirrels).
Donate In Less Than 2 Minutes:
It's easy, just click the big green button that says "BACK
THIS PROJECT" located on this page. Then follow the simple steps. It takes less than 2 minutes to complete the entire process.
Where Do Your Donations Go?
When I did this work with Puppets In The Parks & The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater under the auspices of the City Parks Foundation in NYC we had a $75,000 budget per show with up to a year to build it. This figure does not include the many hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries, plus theater upkeep, trucks, workshop supplies, insurance, etc. By doing most of the work myself - with the advice and guidance of some of my mentors - including Phillip Huber who has generously offered his assistance with the antique puppets - and forgoing the operating costs and bureaucracies of one of the largest non-profits in the world - I can facilitate everything involved with this ambitious project for much less.
- Work Space/Potential Theater Space Big Enough To Set Up The Very Tall, Very Wide Theater & Workshop: Minimum 1 yr rent + utilities: Approx. $2200 +/- a month. This is the single biggest expense.
- Truck Rental to transport the theater to the warehouse and shows, plus mileage fee, gas, tolls, etc: Depending on the distance (and also renting vs. buying a vehicle and the number of shows): $100 - $5000
- Workshop Tables & Power Tools: $1000 +/-
- Linseed or other Wood Oils, Lots of Wood Hardener, Wood Epoxy, Metal Bands, Hardware, Tools, Brushes, Filtering Mask - to treat, refurbish, reinforce and weatherproof the delicate antique wood (particularly the load bearing elements) that was stored in a non-climate controlled free-standing garage on Long Island for many decades: $250 to $700
- NSP Plastiline Clay & Plaster of Paris to sculpt and mould the marionette show and puppet prizes: +/- $300
- Neoprene to cast puppet heads, hands, feet, etc: +/- $500
- $$$ to pay professional actors and singers to record the show (nepotism!): $0 to $5000
- Wood, Cloth, ladders, Rope, Black Deep Sea Fishing Line, Paints, Brushes, Glue, Drop Cloths, Misc. Hardware, etc: +/- 1000
- Portable Touring Speakers: +/- $500
- Extra Quiet Portable Generator (donations permitting): $250 - $1000
- Very Basic Lighting: +/- $250
- Basic Sound Board: +/- $200
- Basic Light Board: +/- $200
- 5% OF DONATIONS GO DIRECTLY AS FEES TO KICKSTARTER, & ANOTHER 3 - 5% GO TO AMAZON.
DONATIONS SURPASSING THE MINIMUM TOTAL PLEDGE: (hey, I have a lot of antique wood in climate controlled storage to knock on) will be used to sponsor performances and build a more technically modern and creatively nuanced show. Donations permitting - a costumer may be hired, actors and puppeteers paid to record and perform, and possibly even buy a truck to transport the show. Better tools and equipment could also be acquired. It would also be great to have a meeting with master marionette artists such as Addis Williams and Phillip Huber - true masters of the craft - to get their input and expertise in the restoration of the trick puppets - particularly the most complex ones - the breakaway dancing skeleton and the trapeze monkey.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT IF THE PROJECT MINIMUM IS NOT MET THEN ALL
PLEDGES ARE CANCELED. This is how Kickstarter assures there are
sufficient resources to complete projects. Also, you can change or cancel your
donation any time until midnight June 15th (in honor of National Smile Power Day :)
& Of Course The Rewards!
PUPPETS! - PROFESSIONAL QUALITY Limited Edition Handcrafted Finger Puppets, Hand Puppets, & Marionettes! These are NOT the toy puppets you're used to. Heavier, meticulously detailed, (and much more difficult and expensive to make). The weight of these puppets - achieved by the use of optimum materials properly balanced - is a major secret in creating expressive puppets. Featuring sculpted, cast and hand painted neoprene heads, tailored costumes, animated or posable arms capable of holding objects, weighted rings on the opening of the
"finger sleeve" to facilitate donning & doffing the puppets, and smaller hanging loops for those lighting fast puppet changes. IF YOU WOULD LIKE ADDITIONAL PUPPETS simply specify which puppets you would like and add the discounted price of $65 per additional finger puppet, $90 per additional hand puppet, & $490 per additional marionette.
TICKETS - $10 Tickets to a show performed on the
theater! - Reserved for you or delivered on your behalf to puppetless
kids, groups & organizations closer to the production - locations to
be determined at the completion of this project but will most likely be by the east
coast of the United States between Florida and NYC.
WHO AM I? WHY AM I QUALIFIED TO DO ALL THIS?
My name's Milo and I'm a professional marionette puppeteer (and proof the Fates are sometimes laughing). For 5 years I worked with several well-known NYC and Brooklyn marionette
theaters including: The Czechoslovak-American
Marionette Theater, NYC & Brooklyn, The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater in NYC's
Central Park, and Puppets In The Parks, NYC & Surrounding Boroughs. I'm also a graduate of a notable theater conservatory in NYC, a mini-epic poeticist, violin aficionado, and Tai Chi Chuan enthusiast and instructor.
Last year I was the Assistant Executive Director of the Puppetry Arts Center of the Palm Beaches in downtown Delray Beach, FL where the antique trick marionettes have been on display in their popular puppetry arts museum.
Throughout my first 4 years of working as a
full time string puppeteer I performed for an official NYC
estimate of 300,000 people, with audience members including notables such
as the Hensons and David Bowie out and about with his family. (Honestly, I think the city might over-estimate those figures a bit for grant purposes, but you didn't hear it from me;)
Most of those 300,000 or so, however, were countless
disenfranchised and under-served youth and families throughout NYC and
its surrounding boroughs. Contrary to popular belief the job of a full time touring marionette
puppeteer is not all autographs and sparkle dust, it's also very rigorous and physically demanding. While loading in
the hundred pound stage pieces every day I'd sometimes think of that Army slogan about getting a lot done in the morning - but in my mind I always heard "We make more kids smile before 10AM than most people do all day...".
Some of my co-workers (by which I mean teachers & mentors):
FLING PUPPETS: A Brief History of the Largest Marionette Theater in the Country & the Impresarios (oooooh...)
One of the reasons the Fling estate granted the theater to me is that of all the puppeteers, museums, and institutions that applied (including the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of CT) I was the only one who was truly excited about the theater itself, in all it's resplendent, erstwhile and potential glory. It's a real dream factory, a real smile machine.
Some Interesting Facts About Marionettes . . .
Marionette is the proper name for a puppet controlled from above by strings and literally translates as little little Mary.
The first marionettes were characters from the Bible used by the Catholic Church to show morality plays in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Mary of course was a prominent character.
If you've ever met any puppeteers then you'll understand why they were soon ousted by the church but didn't lose heart and quickly set up shop on the streets outside the churches staging satirical plays.
The art form of marionettes quikly rose to such popularity that none other than Master Shakespeare himself - and his musical highness Wolfgang Mozart - witnessed their own works performed by marionette theaters. (No way!? Way!)