"We bring wood things to life"
CastIron Carousel Marionette Troupe, Inc. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is twofold: first, to inspire and entertain adult and family audiences with high-quality marionette theater. Second, to provide educational and performance opportunities for those individuals in the community interested in learning the stagecraft of marionette theater.
What we do
The CastIron Carousel is a small, Portland local marionette troupe which does shows for grown-up audiences. Our themes include: Victorian era Science Fiction, 1920’s horror, prison, gangsters, Fairy tales and monster stories. We are inspired by Tom Waits, William Dwiggins, H.P. Lovecraft, H.G. Wells, Jack tales and Jules Verne. We work with Marionettes, Shadow puppets, Rod puppets and a smattering of other things. We do small beautifully strange plays with gorgeous sets and splendid puppets.
Where Did the Idea Come From?
In 1998 I attended the birthday party of a friend's boyfriend. I didn't really know anyone at the party, except my Friend, Sue; and the house I came to was kinda strange. It was decorated everywhere with rusty trinkets and old dolls. Small animal bones and sixties rock posters. There were children's toys from the nineteen fifties and a lot of candles, handmade and melted down to stubs stuck to the fireplace mantle and occasional tables around the living and dining rooms. It was a small place, and apartment in Berkeley Ca on the second floor. The carpet had been scavenged from an old theater by the landlord and it was an insane tangle of curling vine patterns with red flowers.
What made the party something special was the fact that someone had loaned the host a video camera. We were all poor artists from poor backgrounds. I had never even used a video camera before then. It was agreed that the opportunity shouldn't be wasted to do something with the thing. We set up the coffee table, which was an old gray crate, as a stage and began collecting objects from around the house to tell a story with. I tied strings to a teddy bear that was wearing a kilt. A pair of bic pens became the control and I instantly had a character with a high squeaky, accented voice. Other people at the party made more characters and we put on a show for the video camera. Totally off the top of our heads with no idea where we were going with it and had a blast.
The birthday boy was Dave Huckins and the rock posters were his. He had done posters for Phil Lesh, David Grisman, Widespread Panic and Stringcheese Incident. He was also a puppeteer with his friend Adam Bolivar back in Boston. They had a troupe together with Sue Kenney (Now Newman), called, "The Scratch Bros. Presto-Digital Phantasmagoria!" Dave invited me into the troupe for a play called "The Mermaid."
More than a decade later, I cannot shake my addiction to puppets and marionettes in particular. In my travels, I organized several small troupes with friends and artists. "Twisted Things" & "Skin & Bones", to name a couple. I started The CastIron Carousel Marionette Troupe with Adam Bolivar in the winter of 2003 in the basement of a shared house in SW Portland. Our first show was "The Madness at Moorgate Prison," a comedy about a warden and a chaplain of a prison sacrificing prisoners in the service of an ancient demon in order to extend their eternal lives. That play set the tone for what was to come. A long serious of strange, beautiful, gory and unsettling puppet plays for grown-ups.