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Maritime Marionettes bring travelling theatre to Truro


TRURO, N.S. —

In a small studio in Truro, a small body takes form and begins to move. It’s then ready to join the other marionettes on stage, telling stories that entertain children and adults.
The Maritime Marionettes, created by Heather and Darryll Taylor, have been performing since 1986, and this year they revived the tradition of travelling puppet shows with a custom-designed outdoor theatre.
“The wagon’s been great to work in,” said Darryll. “We can travel with everything and set up without competing for stage space with other performers.
“We’ve had it to Port Hawkesbury and to the Apple Blossom Festival and as soon as you pull in to set up people begin gathering around.”
They will have the wagon, which was made by local welder Wayne Smith, in downtown Truro for a performance during the Embrace Truro Festival on Saturday, Sept. 14.
The Taylors will be presenting vignettes from ‘World on a String,’ a show that highlights cultures from around the world.
The Truro-based Maritime Marionettes have travelled as far as Dubai to perform since forming in 1986.
“I saw a live performance of Pinocchio when I was 12 years old and I was captivated with the puppets,” said Heather. “I couldn’t take my eyes off them.
“When I went home I got an old pillow case and started making one I called Jimmy. He had blue overalls and a red shirt. Mum helped with the costume and Dad helped with the controls.”
While she was still in school, she and four friends put on puppet shows at gatherings in their community.
She got her Bachelor of Arts, studied theatre and took programs at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She and Darryl apprenticed at the National Marionette Theater in Hartford, Conn.
“It was Heather’s enthusiasm for marionettes that first got me interested,” said Darryl. “Once I started working with them I really enjoyed it.”
Heather designs the puppets and Darryll does the building. A front and side view are designed to scale, the design is traced onto templates and cut, and then wood is cut. The bodies and limbs are made from basswood, heads are plastic or fiberglass and hands are wooden or plastic. It takes about three weeks to make one two-foot-high marionette, complete with costume and strings.
“The joints have to work smoothly and when we move the puppets we think about how a real person would move, depending on their age and mood,” said Darryl. “They all have a personality and it becomes stronger as you perform.”
There are now about 300 puppets in the stable.
Darryl is the principal writer for the shows, which often include folklore and music.
The puppets' voices, done by actors, are recorded in a sound studio, and sound effects and music are added. During a performance the soundtrack is played from a laptop and heard through speakers in front of the stage.
Maritime Marionettes also does workshops.
“We have so much fun at them,” said Heather. “Kids just love to get their hands on the marionettes.
“Kids make our shows fun too. I like hearing them laugh, and they laugh at lot at some of these shows.”

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Maritime Marionettes shows
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Nativity Story
The Bremen Town Musicians
The Lonely Leprechaun
Petrouchka
Land of the Little People
Molly and the Oak Island Treasure
Rumpelstiltskin
The Greatest Little Show
Red Riding Hood
Cinderella
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
World on a String

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Embrace Truro Festival

Date: Saturday, Sept. 14
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Place: Truro Civic Square
Includes: Jane Abrams, smudging and prayer; Iron Tide Boys, Talia Austin, Bollywood dancing; Maritime Marionettes, Truro Concert Band, Acadian music, Dale Grace, Truro Belly Dancers and free henna tattoos. 
Sponsored by: Town of Truro Diversity Advisory Committee
EMBRACE stands for Everyone Makes a Better, Respectful, Accepting, Creative Environment
 

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