Yuppets! 25 Years

Along the Washington Corridor, behind the mysterious green awning marked "Yuppets" lies the magical home of the Blackstone USA Puppet Theatre, 187 rod puppets and one genius, Gary Jones.

After meeting Blackstone Director, Gary Jones, it’s not difficult to understand Geppetto or Dr. Coppelia inventing puppets that seemingly come to life. Puppeteers develop a close relationship with their creations, spending hours, sometimes months crafting the head and body, painting the face, sewing the costume, developing the puppet's movements.  Each has its own personality.  Some are easily manipulated on stage, others less fluidly.

As Gary explains, favorites emerge.  Passing through the studio, Gary gives a reassuring word to  puppet “Iris” once the prima donna but now seeing much less stage time since she’s become dated. Puppet “Hoola” was injured in a fall during an exhibition and hasn’t been the same since. Following some repairs, her weight and balance are off.  Gary creates puppets first based on different character types, then writes a script and “auditions” the puppets for roles.

Inspired at age 18 as a visitor to the Chicago Kungsholm Miniature Grand Opera, Gary returned ten years later as an employee, then went on to establish the Blackstone USA Theatre with a troupe in 1974. After ten years he moved the production to L.A.  because "something just told him it was right." Since that time Gary and his puppets have traveled the world performing.   But his home base has remained Washington Blvd., where the 68 year-old Gary seems ageless, moving agilely on stage, showing off each puppet’s characteristic gesture.  The puppets’ expressively carved arms and legs move through the nonstop dance of the puppeteer. These two levels of performance are mesmerizing, childlike but sophisticated.  One of the puppets was designed to honor Judith Jamison.  Jones moves like an Alvin Ailey dancer.

The narrow white Blackstone theatre seats 200 children or 50 adults.  Gary explains that children used to constantly sift off to the restroom. They were simply looking for an excuse to wander into the back workroom, attracted by the puppets lining the walls and those under construction.  Now performances are interactive and a studio tour is included so kids can experience the inventive process that begins with a lump of clay molded and cast into a head.

Performances tailored for children or adults are arranged by group reservation.  With a $350 minimum for 30 adults, plus $10 for each additional person, the Blackstone Theatre is one of the best entertainment values in town.

4619 West Washington Blvd., (323)-936-6091, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  www.yuppets.com






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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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