Funded! This project was successfully funded on April 11, 2013.

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A darkly beautiful, Lovecraft-influenced, marionette puppet play for adults, performed this Fall in Portland OR, and beyond.

Scroll to the bottom for a pledge rewards chart or build your own package

Deep in the shadowy reaches of the Appalachian Mountains lurk secrets so terrible it was not meant that men should know them. Foul abominations lie in wait, locked away in the in-between spaces Euclid dared not contemplate,  aching to return to a world which once belonged to them, and one day will be in their grasp again...

The CastIron Carousel seeks funding to stage an H.P. Lovecraft-themed marionette play, The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak in Portland, Oregon in the fall of 2013. A fantastic miniature theater production performed entirely with tiny articulated wooden people in elaborate and beautiful sets.

The ninety minute performance will be in three acts with nine scenes and seven set pieces, each, furnished with a painted backdrop and props, six dramatic characters played by marionettes.

What is the play about?

The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak is an original play set in the backwoods of North Carolina in the 1920s. Influenced by the Appalachian folkloric tradition of Jack tales and the weird horror writings of H.P. Lovecraft; the story revolves around a reclusive family of sorcerers who perform a strange ritual once every twenty years. Things go horribly wrong when a stranger comes to town with a piece of the towns dark past...

This is a video made by Etsy during the building process of Asenath where you can see her being constructed start to finish.

LESS THAN TWO DAYS LEFT!

Please help us make our next Stretch Goal: Touring around the Pacific North West

For the rest of the campaign we will be giving away special free gifts with our backer rewards for any pledge over $20

Today's gift: Signed print by Geahk Burchill, normally sold for $15 in his Etsy store.

Free with your pledge of $20 or more, get this 8.5" x 11" Limited Edition Print of "Isachi", from the Rising Stone Series, on 80# archival paper ready for framing
Free with your pledge of $20 or more, get this 8.5" x 11" Limited Edition Print of "Isachi", from the Rising Stone Series, on 80# archival paper ready for framing

A video filmed & edited by Phil Haleen who we hope to hire on our DVD

Why marionettes?

In general, Americans are not familiar with performances by puppets, especially marionettes. Those of a certain generation may remember Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo or Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Others may have first seen marionettes more recently in movies such as Being John Malkovich or Team America: World Police. However, very few Americans have had the opportunity to witness a live performance with marionettes, an experience which is infinitely more sublime than seeing them on-screen.

Marionette theater is a performance medium unlike any other, and has more in common with animation than with traditional stage theater. Like animation, marionette actors can portray extreme examples of the human experience impossible to conjure any other way.

A powerful image taken by Jay Newman of NewmanImages
A powerful image taken by Jay Newman of NewmanImages

Marionettes are inherently creepy, naturally strange and beautifully surreal. The very concept has a profoundly disconcerting basis: marionettes are inanimate objects given the illusion of life. One never knows just where the human operator ends and the marionette begins. Every marionettist shares the experience of the marionette taking control and doing the unexpected. A lifeless wooden doll becomes a conduit to the subconscious, fusing the operator and the marionette into a single entity, born in a creative spark.

Puppeteer's point of view
Puppeteer's point of view

Marionettes are fiendishly difficult to operate. Every moment on stage is an opportunity for a thousand accidents: strings tangle, limbs break, performers find their muse and go off-script. Some of these accidents are unintentionally hilarious and become excuses for a performer to riff comically. These moments can be marvels of spontaneity, creating singular audience experiences that no performer can ever hope to replicate, and leaving the attendees of that one show with an irreplaceable gift cradled in the memories of those who shared it. No other form of live theater is so subject to the whim of circumstance, assuring that no two performances will ever be the same.

From our previous show, 'The Curious Chronicles of Daniel Candlewick'
From our previous show, 'The Curious Chronicles of Daniel Candlewick'

Despite their complexity, marionette shows are surprisingly inexpensive to produce. We work in one-quarter scale, and as a result, production and materials are far cheaper than a comparable full-scale theater show. The space we need to rehearse is smaller and the time it takes to build sets is shorter. We can do special effects with marionettes that would either be too expensive or flat-out impossible to achieve with live actors. For us, a ninety minute play costs ten thousand dollars to produce. For live theater to realize the same level of special effects, grand scenery and sweeping story would easily cost ten to twenty times as much.

The shows may be cheaper to produce but the amount of work is increased many-fold. These intricate wooden people take hundreds of hours to craft and thousands of hours to become skilled at operating.

George consoles Lennie in our performance "Of Mice and Men"
George consoles Lennie in our performance "Of Mice and Men"
A set built for our original play "The Horrible House of Dr. Hadrian"
A set built for our original play "The Horrible House of Dr. Hadrian"

"In general, I find the Lovecraft community very supportive. For people who are trying to bring about the ultimate destruction of humanity, they are very nice" -Adam Bolivar

The core members of the CastIron Carousel, Geahk Burchill and Adam Bolivar, are both experienced puppeteers. Between them, they have been involved in a dozen fully produced marionette plays in Boston, Berkeley and Portland over the last twenty years.

See Geahk's other work here: http://geahkburchill.carbonmade.com/

And Adam's work here: http://adambolivar.com/

Unlocked at $12,000
Unlocked at $12,000

Tour to Seattle! Yes, we can leave the cozy environs of Portland and perform in our favorite nearby city to the north. This $2,000 will help pay for travel expenses and advertising. All of our backers will receive an extra cast photo thanking you for your help to get us there. Anyone who donated more than $40 and lives in Seattle will get two tickets and two programs to the show. Over $75 will receive a Seattle tour poster, signed by the artist.

Unlocked at $13,000
Unlocked at $13,000

We made it! Premium DVD! We're able to hire help to make a really great DVD instead of just what we can do with our low-end cameras and basic free editing software. This allows us to make a very professional and nicely packaged finished product that you will be proud to put on your movie shelf. Contrary to what our backer reward says, it WILL be the full show.Now that we made it to 13K, it will get a lot of polish too!

Unlocked at $14,000
Unlocked at $14,000

More content in the Coffee Table Art Book. We were already attempting to pack everything we could into this book. Large portions of the script, production photos for the building of the play, a complete set of instructions on marionette building, troupe history, philosophy and cast bios. That was already going to make this book great but now we can add stage building instructions to the book, lighting control diagrams and everything else you would need to start your own marionette theater! Thanks for helping make this book even better!

Unlocks at $15,000
Unlocks at $15,000

If we make this goal, we can do a much larger tour. It would be absolutely amazing to be able to go to California, the Southwest, and the South. A tour like this would include the major cities of the Pacific Northwest, plus the SF Bay Area, the LA area, stops in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. With any luck we'd be able to do gigs in Colorado too! We would put a major effort into getting to South-by-Southwest and other big festivals. For anyone donating more than $40 and living in or near one of the cities on the tour, you will also get two tickets and two programs! Over $75 and you get the DVD and over $100 you get a poster for your local show, signed by the artist.

Our budget

This is an all volunteer troupe, the members will not personally gain financially. We are doing a LOT with a very small budget. In the grand scheme of things we're not asking for very much and providing an amazing value.

When making your decision to help fund this project, we hope you will consider, we are doing this for the love and intend to spend every dollar with incredible care. What you get back when you fund arts like this is so much more than you paid for.

Rewards

Here are some of our planned rewards for backers

T-shirts in Black and Navy Pledge $40
T-shirts in Black and Navy Pledge $40
A beautiful production art book for those pledging $70 to the project
A beautiful production art book for those pledging $70 to the project
High quality replica heads from the production fully painted. Pledge $150
High quality replica heads from the production fully painted. Pledge $150

We now know that our DVDs will be able to include the full show, filmed from multiple angles with lots of behind the scenes special features.

Theater is a difficult thing to film because video naturally loses some of the immediacy of live theater. We are going to be working with a very talented film maker to respect the show and create a filmed piece that works to honor the live theater experience.

A short piece we did a couple years ago featuring Aloysius, a cybernetically augmented hare.

http://www.kicktraq.com/projects/thedoom/the-doom-that-came-to-fiddle-creak-marionette-play/" target="_blank">

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

In our experience, every five minutes of performance costs roughly $550 to create. And that's if everyone volunteers. That, nearly, six hundred dollars includes buying materials for sets, backdrops and puppets. It includes printing posters and programs as well as renting the theater and advertising the show. It includes the care and feeding of volunteers during dozens of hours, per scene, of rehearsal and preparation or the artists, building and painting, the sets. The rent on the studio to build and rehearse in. The vehicle to carry the sets and stage to the venue and the required insurance for both the studio and the theater.

Our greatest risk is loss of momentum which has been hard to maintain the past few years due to limited finances and a rough economy. What we're looking for with Kickstarter is a little wind at our backs. Because the lack of a surprisingly small amount of money is really all that stands in our way, we hope you, our fans, associates, lovers of puppets and those just now introduced to the art form, will help give us the supportive push we need to complete an amazing play which has lingered on the drawing board for far too long.

What might happen to marionette puppetry without support? It could die out. There have been other times, when it has nearly died out, save a handful of practitioners. This is because it is a very difficult and rigorous form of live theater. It requires a lot of work to put on a show, years of training and there are not often great rewards. It is an amazing way to tell a story but only a small group of lucky people ever get to see a live show and so it is easily lost against the background of big budget spectacles on one hand, or free entertainment on the other.

Marionette puppetry is challenging to the actor and can be destructive to the body but it is also one of the most incredible ways to engage the imagination of an audience there is. No other form of theater asks you to become a child again like puppetry, and give your suspension of disbelief some exercise.

If you have seen a marionette show in the past, support because you want to see more. If this might be your first show, support because you have no idea what you are missing. We promise, it will be worth it.

FAQ

  • We don't swear and there is no full frontal nudity, however, our plays are not meant for young children. You can think of us as being "PG-13." For example, in the Madness at Moorgate Prison, we "Executed" puppets in an electric chair in a way that was quite disturbing. The chair did not work well and there was a lot of screaming, smoke and sparking. That's what we mean by 'Dark'.

    On the other hand, I saw 'Aliens' for the first time when I was 8 and it didn't harm me none. Certainly it is a choice you must make as a parent. Our plays ARE designed to give people uncomfortable feelings or, even, nightmares. If you feel comfortable dealing with your kid's new-found night-terrors after seeing our play, we keep the rest of the play pretty "clean".

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  • This is explained in the play. It is a triple meaning. Certainly a "Creek" is a body of water, and there IS a Fiddle Creek in the town; Also bluegrass musicians talk about the "Creak of a Fiddle." That is the stated meaning given to any outsiders. But there is a third, darker meaning which can only be discovered by visiting this far-flung and dilapidated town and seeing what must not be seen.

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  • This is a stylistic choice mean to reflect the time period we generally set our plays in, not a moral one. Since many of our plays take place during the 1930's and several take place as early as 1880, we simply follow the mores of that time when writing our scripts.

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  • It's true that puppets are associated strongly with children's theater in America but that is not the case all over the world. We try to bring a new flavor of puppetry to our audience. There are many wonderful troupes producing puppetry for children. There are also several great troupes that produce hilarious and obscene puppets exclusively for adults. We take a middle approach. Our shows are intended to be thoughtful and entertaining, funny and dark, beautiful and disturbing. We enjoy balanced storytelling that is character driven and emotional as well as maintaining an accessibility that keeps us firmly grounded. Our shows are for grown-ups which is somewhat rare and we hope you will find them new and interesting.

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  • YES! We Do want to make our stretch goals though and be able to bring the show to you, so encourage your friends and family to contribute to the project.
    Regardless of where you hang your hat, any tickets you buy on Kickstarter will be good at any show, anywhere. So if you live in Memphis, bought your tickets from us on Kickstarter and want to see the show in Atlanta (We are hoping to perform there) your ticket WILL BE GOOD.

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  • The March 20th show is door-only. Sorry.
    We will be performing 'The Horrible House of Dr. Hadrian' on March 30th at 8pm. All the tickets here are for 'The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak' which won't be complete until September.

    The March 30th show will also have mock gambling. We will have several casino games, including Poker, Blackjack and Roulette. The $20 ticket gets you in to see the show and $2,000 in chips to play games with. The event will be a part of raising money to produce "The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak'

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  • Actually it WILL! We've actually changed that since launch. (We are not able to change the text of the backer rewards once people have chosen them) Lots of people asked if we would have the full show on the DVD and we decided we would, even if we don't get to 13K, but reaching that mark will determine how complete and professional the package is. If we don't make 12K, we will make the DVD ourselves. If we DO make 13K, we will have some paid help making the DVD as good as it can be.

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    7 backers

    •Desktop wallpaper• 1 High resolution digital image (1920X1080) of one of the puppets from the finished show, emailed to you along with a 'thank you' for your donation. Photo will be one taken by acclaimed photographer, David Emmite.

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    8 backers

    •Scenic Extra• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Scenic Extra" level. While scenic extras are not, individually, seen as important in a production they are extremely important collectively. Where would Ben Hur be without extras? How about Lord of the Rings? It is the collective contributions of dozens or hundreds of scenic extras that make the final production an exciting spectacle. We thank you so much for your personal contribution to this play. You will get 5 High resolution digital images (1920X1080) of one of the puppets from the finished show, emailed to you along with a 'thank you' for your donation. Photo will be one taken by acclaimed photographer, David Emmite.

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    •Bit Part• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Bit Part" level. It is said, "There are no small parts, only small actors". There is a reason this phrase has stood the test of time. So-called bit parts are an incredibly important part of an overall production--so much so, that it would collapse without them. These are the team players of the stage. The relay racers. While they often get little individual adulation, they lift the other actors up and indeed the whole production to create propulsion to a storyline. These small roles are the stitches holding the patchwork together. You will get 5 High resolution digital images (1920X1080) of the puppets from the finished show, emailed to you along with a 'thank you' for your donation. You will also get a high resolution digital version of the poster.

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    A downloadable version of the DVD! We will provide a digital version of the basic DVD package including special features and clips of previous performances in this great package. If we make our stretch goal for a full production DVD, we will include all of that footage as well!

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    4 backers Limited (96 left of 100)

    *Limited Edition Program* A limited edition program from the show only for Kickstarter backers. Includes a sticker and will be signed by either the artistic director or the playwright. Program will include illustrations, character descriptions, town back-story, cast information and troupe philosophy. Also 5 high resolution (1920X1080) digital desktop wallpaper images of each of the puppets from the finished show, emailed to you along with a 'thank you' for your donation.

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    5 CastIron Carousel Marionette Troupe postcards and a signed program mailed to you plus 5 high resolution (1920X1080) digital desktop wallpaper images of each of the puppets from the finished show, emailed to you along with a 'thank you' for your donation. These will be produced for Kickstarter backers exclusively.

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    DVD with behind the scenes footage and selected scenes from this and past shows. See what it's like in the studio and on set. Including cast interviews, design stills and production video. If we make our stretch goal of $13,000, the DVD will contain even more footage and behind the scenes content.

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    A digital copy of the Production Art Book for your e-reader! This PDF copy of the book will have much of the same content as the hard back printing. Including hundreds of production photos-marionette building, set building, graphic design, interviews with the troupe members, philosophy, examples of the script and thousands of wonderful details delving into what goes into building a marionette show.

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    9 backers

    •Character Actor• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Character Actor" level. You also get the Production DVD. Character actors seldom get billing but are an incredibly important part of giving a production texture and life. These small parts are often referred to as "That guy!" or "Him from whatsit." Audiences often fall in love with these character actors, looking for their favorite ones in show after show. While there isn't a lot of glory in the character actor's job, they always make a production better by bringing life, comedy or grit to a world created on stage.

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    6 backers Limited (94 left of 100)

    Signed, limited edition full color print of the poster from the show on high quality card stock. signed by, either the poster artist or the artistic director of the troupe. Limited to Kickstarter backers ONLY. Not available at shows. Frame ready and beautiful. This will be one to hang on the wall.

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    25 backers

    Two tickets to any performance! (This is for Portland locals only unless me make our stretch goals) Along with the performance you will get two programs signed by the artistic director or playwright. Program will include illustrations, character descriptions, town back-story, cast information and troupe philosophy. Receive tickets and program through Will Call the night of the show at the box office.

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    29 backers Limited (21 left of 50)

    Boxed Set DVD- This is the full-behind the scenes boxed set for the DVD package. You get the production DVD (With lots of extra footage if we make our stretch goals) which comes with a digital version of the poster, 5 digital desktop wallpaper images, 5 Lovecraftian marionette postcards and a signed program which contains a sticker, character bios, troupe philosophy, town back-story and several illustrations. This is the next best thing to the Production Art Book. This version is limited and only available to Kickstarter backers.

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    Signed, limited edition full color poster from the show. Signed by, either the poster artist or the artistic director of the troupe. Also a signed program and 5 high resolution (1920X1080) digital desktop wallpaper images of each of the puppets from the finished show, emailed to you along with a 'thank you' for your donation. Photos will be one taken by acclaimed photographer, David Emmite.

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    4 backers

    CastIron horse T-shirt! Navy with Iron horse logo This bad-ass iron horse is not like any merry-go-round steed you've ever seen. A mechanical Clydesdale with steam boiler powerplant and electric eyes with the nouveau logo on back. Please indicate your size when pledging.

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    Hadrian T-shirt! Yeah, we know you've seen T-shirts before. Probably have a half dozen in your closet right now you never wear, but you haven't seen OUR T-shirt. This is gonna be one you're definitely gonna want. Black with Dr. Hadrian marionette and sepia logo on back. Please indicate your size when pledging.

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    8 backers Limited (42 left of 50)

    A signed poster and a DVD! We're been asked for this package and we can't believe we didn't think of it! It's like Peanut butter & Jelly, an obvious combination which had to happen. Both these rewards will be limited edition only available to our Kickstarter backers.

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    Three tickets, three signed programs and five postcards! This is available to Portland area residents only (Unless we make our stretch goals and come to your town) A great package for an evening out!

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    18 backers

    A beautiful, High quality art book following the production of the play including hundreds of photos, notes, design drawings, cast photos and bios and a marked up copy of the script. This ultimate behind-the-scenes version available to Kickstarter backers ONLY. Book comes packed with the Production DVD. Later printings of the book available at shows will not contain script or DVD.

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    4 backers

    Shwag but no show pack- This is for all those folks who want to support the production but can't make it to an actual performance. Maybe you're international or are an aquatic king who is just too busy to go to the surface world, you can still support the show! You get, 1 signed poster, 1 DVD, 1 T-shirt of your choice, 1 signed program, 5 postcards, and 5 digital wallpaper images by photographer David Emmite. The package deal is $15 less than if you got everything individually! All items are limited to the Kickstarter campaign and will not be available in this form at shows.

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    3 backers

    Four tickets to any performance! (This is for Portland locals only unless we make our stretch goals) Four signed programs, 1 signed, full color poster and two sets of 5 postcards. An awesome Double-date package!

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    9 backers

    •Supporting Actor• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Supporting Actor" level. You also get a DVD and T-shirt of your choice. The supporting actors get a lot of well-deserved credit for their role in a production. Without them a story has little, or no, balance. No single character or hero can carry the weight of the audience expectations, hopes or, even, interest. It's up to the supporting cast to create tension, drama and mobility for the hero's journey. They provide resting spots, counterpoints and goals for a story. As such, they are absolutely indispensable. Also, if we make our stretch goals, you will get everything listed there.

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    2 backers Limited (23 left of 25)

    Puppet head! This is a cast replica head from one of the main characters from the show, fully painted and mounted on a display stand. You choose wall mounted or shelf-top. This puppet head will have all the intricate detail of the characters in the actual show plus the wonderful creepiness of being detached from a body. Limited in number, these heads will ONLY be available to people who have donated to this Kickstarter project.

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    6 backers Limited (19 left of 25)

    Shwag Pack Plus! It's all the same stuff you get in our Shwag pack but this comes with the art book! You get, 1 signed poster, 1 DVD, 1 T-shirt of your choice, 1 signed program, 5 postcards, and 5 digital wallpaper images by photographer David Emmite. AND The Production Art Book! A beautiful large format coffee table book with insights into the production of the show, hundreds of photos and set set designs. The package deal is less than if you got everything individually! All items are limited to the Kickstarter campaign and will not be available in this form at shows.

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    We'll write you into the show! That's right YOU will be one of the protagonist's colleagues at the university mentioned in the play by name. You will also show up in the program in the characters section! Plus you'll get any extras mentioned in our stretch goals.

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    An original script used by the actors during rehearsal, filled with notes, changes and scrawlings in the margins. Scripts are like archeological digs which show what a play goes through to become ready for performance. Usually there is only one or two intact scripts like this one by the end of a performance run. You will be the only person to own it for this play. Along with the script you will get a signed program and poster plus two tickets to any performance.

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    We'll paint you into the backdrop! Yes, that's right, You're portrait will hang in a haunted mansion in one of two scenes. Our master painters will add your likeness, dressed in old-timey clothes hanging above a mantle or overlooking the dining room table. One of the characters will even comment on your portrait, adding a funny line of dialogue. Not only that, if we make our stretch goals, you will get everything listed there.

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    •Hero• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Hero" level. You'll also get the Production DVD, the book and a T-shirt of your choice along with any of the rewards mentioned in the stretch goals. The hero is the avatar for the audience, through whom they experience the story. The hero creates continuity and eyes to witness the world created by the playwright. The hero is the story and, as such can make or break a production. You'll get a signed poster mailed to you and, if we make our stretch goals, you will get everything listed there.

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    •Villain• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Villain" level. You'll also get the DVD, the production book, two T-shirts of your choice, a poster pack with programs and anything mentioned in the stretch goals. There really is only one thing better than playing the hero and that is playing the villain. The hero may carry the audience's hopes but you carry the fears and secret desires. There's a little villain in all of us. Apart from being listed in the program, you will get a signed copy of the program and any rewards listed in the stretch goals if we make them.

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    •Puppeteer• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Puppeteer" level. This gets you four programs, four tickets to any show, four T-shirts, four Art books, Four DVDs and any rewards mentioned in the Stretch Goals.

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    Geahk Burchill will build you a custom marionette! Options include: Steampunk Robot marionette, Iron Horse marionette or a Creepy Gothic Stork marionette. These are each personally hand-crafted and one-of-a-kind. Even if they end up beaing all stork puppets, for instance, they will all be extremely unique and individual. This reward is limited to Kickstarter backers ONLY as each puppet will be a custom work of art made for the backer with the backer specifically in mind.

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    •Producer• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Producer" level. This gets you everything mentioned at the "Puppeteer" level plus an ad in our programs and dinner with cast members, writer and director.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Exclusive!!! Get a marionette •Portrait• or yourself handcrafted by Master Puppet builder, Geahk Burchill. Only one of these will be offered during this campaign. A detailed marionette built exclusively for you using your input and photos. Made performance quality with all the detail of any marionette built by this craftsman. ONLY available during the Kickstarter campaign

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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    Geahk Burchill will fly to wherever you are in the US and personally give you a marionette building class! Class will include all materials and tools and multiple days of personal instruction. Beginning with character conception and continuing all the way through carving, construction, stringing and manipulation. The marionette is yours to keep after the class. Your pledge will pay for round-trip airfare, room and board as well as all tools and materials.

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    •Director• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Director" level. You get everything mentioned at the "Producer level" along with larger ads in the programs as well as on the posters. Mentions during the introduction before and after each show and a private performance at your event.

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    •Studio• Your name listed in the program as a donor to the project, "Studio" level. Everything mentioned in the "Director Level" plus personal marionette instruction by Geahk Burchill and unlimited tickets and programs for any performance. That is all the programs and tickets you need to any show, ten T-shirts, ten Art books, all the DVDs you need and any rewards mentioned in the Stretch Goals plus the large ad in the program and on the poster, mentions before and after every performance and dinner with the cast whenever is convenient.

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Funding period

- (40 days)