We've been a fan of the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre for years, but since Baker's death, the fate of the theater has always seemed a little bit up in the air. I'm not sure what to make of their move out of their longtime downtown space — this letter below seems almost too optimistic that they'll be moving into a new home quickly — but my fingers are crossed. Here's an update on the future of the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre:
Hello! Hello! Hello!
The day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday,” I like to think of it more as “pastel colored, glitter encrusted, twinkle-light decorated Friday.” Wondering if it will stick.
In 1963, the day after Thanksgiving, Bob opened the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. 55 years later to the day, on November 23rd, 2018, we will host our final public performance in this space.
After decades of uncertainty, I am proud and excited to announce that we are taking a deliberate step with a plan and a vision to continue the Theater and all the imagination it inspires!
The very the next day after our final show, we are opening our fan favorite Bob Baker’s Nutcracker at the Pasadena Playhouse running for the holiday season. Our Christmas traveling show will be at dozens of locations that we have been performing at since the 1950’s, and some new additions such as a Thursday night series at the Santa Monica Pier, special events at Dynasty Typewriter, a puppet camp at Kidspace Children's Museum and pop-up art shows all over L.A.! The Theater is alive and well with a community of wonderful people that pull the strings of family fun and a new non-profit with a dedicated board that is expanding our vision.
We are soon to announce a new permanent location - flowery language can’t even begin to describe how wonderful and exciting it will be!
Do you smell that? Until the invention of smell-o-vision for the internet it’s hard to convey, but the smell is sweet! The future is sweet!
In writing and talking about everything going on at Theater it is hard for me convey the sincerity of confidence I have in the future, the inspiration I feel in the passion, creativity, and the dedication of people working around me. I delight in the enchanting world that is Bob Baker Marionette Theater and it’s hard not to use language which doesn’t sound like spin and isn’t glossing over the real emotions at hand.
The future is exciting, made possible after decades of heart and soul from countless people, and the current moment is a tremendous opportunity that the Theater is seizing to continue to grow and to expand; to share the vision and imagination that has already inspired so many!
In recent years, we had planned to move back into the current location as part of the high density housing to be built on the site, but as those plans come together and with an incredible amount of growth and success in the past few years, a future Bob Baker that continues that growth and shares the magic will be best served at a new location – where we will continue to showcase Bob Baker shows as Bob and his team made them, expand our programming and partnerships, build new shows and puppets, properly preserve and restore the endless pieces of art, and most of all open our doors to share the incredible resource that I so gleefully enjoy. From the drywall to the chandeliers, we’ll bring with us the charm and character of what is cherished down here, including a spirit that isn’t defined by the brick and mortar, we will bring with us the imagination of the Theater and foster its growth into something I’m excited to see.
I feel it’s important to recognize that this is a moment of change in an institution that means so much to so many. I often perform Bob’s balloon clown routine, a clown who floats too high via a helium Balloon which then pops, leaving at its conclusion a clown in tears. It’s puppetry at its best, creating empathy with an animated illustration of emotion. I find that the point of the number is that it is okay to be sad. The show can go on, and when after a musical bridge a frog jumps out and does a tap dance you can hoot and holler at, it is all part of the imaginative emotional arc that makes up one of Bob’s shows. We feel the collective loss in losing a space that has hosted so many memories, I think it is okay to take a moment to be sad about this and be ready to move on to the next act.
This week we are publicly announcing our final months of performances at our current location, special event programming, and ways to get involved and support. Our website will be revamped with ongoing information, our social will roll out #ImaginationDwellsHere to showcase all the ways the spirit of the Theater is so much more than this building, our membership program will offer ways for us to keep our community involved, and an exciting series of events will celebrate the past, present, and future. The best way to help and serve the Theater right now is to share the message that we are In LA to Stay wherever imagination dwells!
In what is clearly a moment of a changing city, this is an example where change doesn’t have to mean a loss of history and culture, this is an opportunity where culture can transition and not only adapt to change but grow within it. To support the Bob Baker Marionette Theater now is to support arts and culture in the fabric of an evolving city.
We are a living Theater, timeless in our presentation of culture, art, and craft. We are influenced by decades of design and centuries of craft, made by 1000’s of individuals from the founding members to the amazing current crew and future artists who will come to be part of the Theater - they are all encapsulated in the name “Bob Baker.” The Bob Baker Marionette Theater lives where imagination dwells. For 55 years, imagination dwelled at 1345 W. First St., and now it will dwell at the Pasadena Playhouse, Santa Monica Pier, soon at our new location, and also in the lives of children who take home the experience of seeing a puppet show. We are In LA to Stay and I couldn’t be more excited!
Executive Director and Head Puppeteer of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater