Hansel and Gretel: Columbia Marionette Theatre’s new production puts an emphasis on experimentation -- A guest blog by Lyon Hill

At Jasper, we hate spam. But what we hate even more than spam is when real messages -- important messages -- get mistakenly relegated to our spam file. Grrrr.

That's what happened last week when this important guest blog by local marionette genius Lyon Hill got lost in our spam file and never saw the light of day. We just found it. Like 5 minutes ago.

But rather than throw the wooden baby puppet out with the shredded pieces of blue paper that look like bath water, we're going to go ahead and run this guest blog anyway. (And when you get to the part where Lyon is inviting you to become a part of their almost-over kickstarter campaign -- don't freak out. It was successful!)


And now, for a few words from Lyon ...

Hansel and Gretel: Columbia Marionette Theatre’s new production puts an emphasis on experimentation.

The classic Grimm’s fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel has always been a favorite of mine and I yet rarely see it adapted well. The dark forest, the lost children, the gingerbread house, the sinister witch; all of these are potent images and they are perfect for our puppet stage.

Awhile back, I began experimenting with telling this story in a look inspired by early animation; particularly the cartoons of the Fleischer brothers. They created surreal and silly Betty Boop and Popeye shorts that are still intriguing today for their humor and ingenuity. My first take on the characters can be seen in the issue of Jasper in which I am interviewed.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of working with Wade Sellers of CoalPowered Filmworks (also featured in Jasper) to create a vignette for a ‘Playing After Dark’ event. We coupled these puppets with projected computer animation and it clicked. The puppets seemed to be moving through a deep and dark, dimensional forest.

At that point, I knew we had something and we decided to flesh out the concept and put it on CMT’s main stage. I knew music would be a key factor, so I contacted Dave Drazin, who scored my short film, Junk Palace. He is an accomplished silent film accompanist and well versed in the sound of the time.

We have been hard at work bringing these diverse elements together. While there is still much left to be done, I am excited by the progress so far. One of the things I am most pleased with is the warmth and humor. While we do deliver on a spooky forest and a nasty witch, the show has been written with a very young audience in mind. I think children will connect with the characters of Hansel and Gretel, and the whole family will find it enjoyable.

CMT traditionally creates almost entirely in-house, so we have created a kickstarter  fundraising campaign to offset the expenses of hiring collaborators. While we have had many generous offers of donations, we are only a couple of days away with more money to raise.


We have tried to make the rewards enticing, so please have a look and consider contributing to this unique project. In any case, please come see the show, opening September 22 and running through the end of the year. We have performances every Saturday at 11am and 3pm, as well as the third Monday of each month at 10 am.

Lyon Hill is the art director and puppetmaker at the Columbia Marionette Theatre.



401 Laurel St

Columbia, SC 29201