MadCap Puppets

Puppets have the power to entertain, enrage, and heal

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two things were clear during the conversation on Puppetry: Exploring Life & Art. Puppets aren’t just for kids, and puppeteers are tired of having writers point out that puppets are not just for kids. The panel came on the eve of ArtsX at Bowling Green State University. Kelly Mangan, the prop master for the Department of Theatre and Film, facilitated the talk between Mel Hatch Douglas, a 1998 BGSU graduate and associate artistic director of Madcap Puppets, and Bradford Clark, puppet master, scholar, and museum curator. The spoke in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre with a backdrop of some of the puppets in their lives. In some traditions, puppets are considered alive. Mangan remembered first meeting Clark, long before either joined the BGSU faculty. She was 19, and she remembered Clark blowing incense into the eyes of puppets. This came, he said, from his studies in Bali. “At that point, they became people,” she said. “As a prop person in order to put them back into storage, we had to take the life out. Until then we treated them as people.” For a 19-year-old, this was magic. She’s retained her love of puppets and has used them in her work. “I look at a script and help a director tell that story.” Sometimes that involves elements of puppetry. For a Huron Playhouse production of “The Wizard of Oz,” she used elaborate shadow puppets as scenery. Clark recalled his own initiation into puppetry. He loved it as a kid growing up in California. His fourth…