For nearly 60 years, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater (BBMT) has entertained more than 1 million children and parents through endlessly inventive puppet shows featuring well over 3,000 unique string-controlled creations. Throughout its history, the company has maintained strong ties to Pasadena through beloved performances at One Colorado and a special Christmas-season show at the Pasadena Playhouse last year.
The BBMT has undergone significant changes in the past several years, as real estate development forced it to move its operations from its historic location near downtown Los Angeles to new quarters in Highland Park. Now, the theater has brought its outreach into the digital age with two current series of online videos that teach children how they can create their own puppets at home from everyday items.
In conjunction with LAUSD’s 2020 Summer of Learning, designed to keep kids engaged and learning while trapped at home under the Covid-19 lockdown, the BBMT is offering the six-part video series “The Adventures of Bobo” and the time-lapse tutorial series “At Home Happiness.”
In “Bobo,” a human puppeteer named Missy interacts with the clown puppet Bobo to answer the questions “What is a puppet?” and “How are they made?” Ranging from three to five minutes in length, the videos start with a quick, entertaining history of the theater.
Other videos feature Missy and Bobo showing how puppets can represent different species and enliven an endless array of items. They demonstrate how to make puppets from all sorts of household objects, such as turning the inside of an egg carton into a giant tooth-filled mouth.
Other tutorials teach kids how to make hand puppets and flower pot puppets, with more variations to come.
The “At-Home Happiness” series features more short videos that illustrate how to recreate beloved BBMT favorites like Wiz the Clown, Demi the Star and a Big Pants Clown. In lieu of a host, the videos simply demonstrate how to create puppets using catchy circus-themed music instead of words.
Anyone interested in a more traditional style of learning can download a classic puppet-making handbook created in 1972 for just $10. All the fun can be found here.