Puppets weren't invented in Southern California. Nope, people have been making easily manipulated inanimate objects talk since there've been people and easily manipulated inanimate objects.
But Hollywood played a large part in launching marionettes and talking socks and faces drawn on hands into the larger realm of modern popular culture. Puppets were treasured forms of entertainment centuries before movies and television, but it was after the arrival of wide-spread media that certain characters became known the whole world 'round.
And props to all of those puppets who got their starts in New York and London and Chicago -- hi, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie! -- but LA definitely deserves the accolades, too.
The Muppets are long associated with Tinseltown, and Lamb Chop and Alf and Madame and assorted characters we know and adore have called LA home. Yep, they're all associated with SoCal, but they're known around the globe thanks to the invention of screens.
So it is funny to consider there's never been a full-scale celebration of puppetry 'round one of the planet's centers of marionette wizardry. Puppet buffs are seeking to rectify that in April with a month-long LA Puppet Fest, the first-ever of such magnitude here in LA. Let's call it the largest fest geographically that SoCal has ever seen. Wherever you are, there's probably a show close at hand.
(We'll also note that while there have been mondo puppet festivals before in LA, this is the first presented by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, making it truly vast.)
"(A) variety of events, shows, exhibitions, and classes for all ages and tastes" dot the schedule, which opens on April 2 and runs through April 28. This means there will be some productions that are strictly for children, some just for the grown-ups, and some that are truly come one, come all. Just make sure you check the schedule so you show at the right show.
Participating groups include the Upright Citizens Brigade, the Skirball Cultural Center, Million Puppet March, Rogue Artists Ensemble, Bootleg Theater, and, yep, the famous Bob Baker Marionette Theatre.
We're hoping for a few cameos by the saber-toothed cat that regularly appears at the Page Museum near the tar pits (the realistic-looking feline is designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, which makes us meow).