Original hand puppetry at Sandglass

PUTNEY — On Saturday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m., Sandglass Theater will present two original works by ensemble members, Kalob Martinez and Jana Zeller. Puppet Crimes celebrates the grotesque tradition of hand puppetry in two styles, and assures a night of wicked enjoyment from comedy to tragedy.

Martinez is an actor, voice artist, fight director, and puppeteer from Houston, Texas. He is a member of the company of Babylon, Sandglass' newest original work, which begins touring in the fall. Martinez has an Master of Fine Arts from the Puppet Arts Program at the University of Connecticut and created El Beto in order to complete his MFA.

El Beto is a one man, bilingual, hand puppet version of Shakespeare's Macbeth and is set in the world of the Mexican drug cartel. While the U.S. engages in the war on drugs another war is fought by the cartels in order to gain control of the US/Mexico border. From 2006 to 2010 there were seven cartels fighting over control of the border. Thirty-five thousand drug related homicides occurred during that span of time. Details about cartel leaders like El Chapo and El Mas Loco sound so far fetched as if they came from a movie. All of the puppet heads were created by digitally scanning Martinez's head.

Martinez's other credits include the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, and the Alley Theatre (Houston). Additionally he has performed at the Houston Grand Opera, Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre, and the Houston Shakespeare Festival. He has appeared in over fifty commercials and industrial videos as well as the voice in the English dubs of anime for ADV Films, Seraphim Digital, and Sony.

Zeller will be presenting her adult Kasper and Gretel. This raucous hand puppet piece features traditional German hand puppet heroes Kasper and Gretel, as they struggle with the duties of a married couple inside an old shack. The action turns comical, tragic and grotesque as the two juggle the baby, their chores and making money, dream of a better future and hide a dangerous secret from each other. Based in a tradition that first appeared in the fairgrounds of Europe in the seventeenth century, these stock characters survive to this day and continue to comment on their surrounding society.

Zeller grew up in a family of international puppeteers and started working for the theater in her teens. As a set painter and designer she has worked for the theater, opera, TV, and the movies, and has designed and built a wide range of puppets. In 2001 she founded her own puppet company, Spybird Theater and has performed her works in the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany and India. For the past two years she has been touring with Shoshana Bass, presenting a cherished children's puppet show that the two sisters inherited from their mother.

Sandglass presents this new and developing work of its ensemble to celebrate the traditions of puppetry. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. Reserve tickets by emailing info@sandglasstheater.org or calling 802-387-4051. Advanced reservations are highly encouraged as seating is limited, or take your chances at the door, payable by cash or check. Sandglass Theater is an accessible, 60-seat theater located at 17 Kimball Hill, Putney.


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