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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.
May 13, 2016

Carlo Colla & Sons: A Marionette Company Rooted in History


Pied Piper Finale SceneThe New Victory Theater presents different styles of puppetry for all ages. This season alone we've had jungle creature hand puppets in Handa's Surprise, monkey rod puppets in Caps for Sale and a variety of dream-like creatures from shadow puppets to Bunraku puppets in The Star Keeper. Our latest show, THE PIED PIPER, features the magnificent work of the Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company.

Carlo Colla & Sons is a family company rooted in history. In the late 1700s, Giovanbattista Colla used marionettes to entertain and educate his children in comedy, drama and the classic arts. Five generations later, Carlo Colla & Sons is still practicing the art form and is one of the most respected puppetry companies in the world. We're thrilled to share this beautiful work of art with school and family audiences and so are our New Victory Teaching Artists! We asked them some questions in anticipation of the show…..


What do you love about puppetry?
I love the idea that as a puppeteer, one can disappear behind, and in service to, the puppet/object one is manipulating. That, and there's something so wonderful and mesmerizing about breathing life into something that was inanimate. – Josh Rice

For me, the most attractive thing about puppetry is that puppetry allows the puppeteers and the audience to see things from a different point of view. I often consider a puppeteer as a cameraman who can provide the audience with a zoomed in view, as close to inside of someone's head; or a zoomed out view, as far as the whole universe. A puppetry world won't exist without the audience's willing suspension of disbelief. To witness something that is impossible becoming possible is thrilling. It frees us from limitation and gives us wings to fly as high as our imagination can go. – Spica Wobbe

Puppets sometimes illuminate the human experience in a way that human performers cannot.  They are also an extraordinary tool for talking about tricky subjects. – Liz Parker

I love puppetry because it blends so many art forms together. Dance, theater, visual design, music and more! – Spencer Lott
 

Behind the Scenes of The Pied Piper
A look behind the scenes of Carlo Colla & Sons' The Pied Piper. Manager Piero Corbella demonstrates puppetry for a school audience.
What's special about the Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company?
This company is special because they are keeping alive a traditional art form, and have for almost 200 years, all within the same family.  That's older than many things in America! – Josh Rice

The Colla company is special because their storytelling reflects their art form. They use traditional theater techniques to tell traditional stories to modern audiences. Their shows serve as a living history lesson, giving us a glimpse into the evolution of puppet theater. – Spencer Lott

Why is important to keep old art forms like the Collas' alive?
The world is changing every second. The past seems to be moving further and further away from us faster and faster in these modern times. However, nothing can replace a Thanksgiving dinner or the national anthem before a ball game. Traditions ground you and remind you who you are and why you are here. No matter how high tech our world becomes, we have to make sure that the string that connects us to the past is always there. – Spica Wobbe

This week, I had the privilege of trying a virtual reality headset for the first time.   I feared that this experience might show me a glimpse of a future where today's performance arts are obsolete.   Though the experience was spectacular, it actually served to affirm my opinion of the importance and timeless value of performance arts that have been practiced and perfected over generations.  Shows like The Pied Piper invite audiences to take an active leap of the imagination.  While a virtual landscape can submerge us in another reality, the tangible beauty of a hand-carved puppet brought to life by the live talent of a trained human hand... well, that allows us all to see the possibility and magic of our own reality! – Liz Parker

 


 

The Colla family has been in the marionette business since the 19th century, spending their first 100 years touring northern Italy. You can follow in their footsteps with the Pied Piper's FAMILY ACTIVITY!

Posted by Beth Henderson
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