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Life on a String: The Yale Puppeteers and the Turnabout Theatre Audio Tour

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3. Unknown, Yale Puppeteers on the Road in New Hampshire, 1928

NARRATOR [JAMES REYNOLDS]:

Before radio, television, and the internet, puppeteers entertained audiences around the country. In the 1920s, vaudeville and live reviews were all the rage, and enterprising puppeteers like Tony Sarg, Ellen van Volkenberg and Helen Haiman Joseph toured the States with sizeable ensembles.

In 1928, the Yale Puppeteers embarked on their first tour of the East Coast, performing in barns, hospitals, prisons, schools, and churches. Here, we see them on the road in New Hampshire.

Harry Burnett:

HARRY BURNETT:

We had a Ford touring car and we managed to get a little touring puppet show in the back seat somehow and made quite a hit doing scenes from Shakespeare.

NARRATOR [JAMES REYNOLDS]:

They also performed adaptations of the French folk story Bluebird and the 17th century German fairy tale Puss in Boots. You'll find some of their early playbills in a case nearby.

According to Forman Brown, their goal was first and foremost to enjoy themselves while also making some money.

FORMAN BROWN:

We passed the hat and some days we made 15 dollars and sometimes 25 and sometimes practically nothing. But it was all good fun.

NARRATOR [JAMES REYNOLDS]:

They also played in up-scale towns like Bar Harbor, Maine, where actors and musicians from all over the country entertained wealthy summer vacationers.

CHRISTINA RICE:

They performed for Mrs. John D. Rockefeller and Mrs. Edsel Ford and were paid more than 50 dollars for that. Early on they just wanted to perform and would take any gig that they could get.

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