Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stamp of Approval: Mettawee River Theatre Company

My involvment in theater is limited to being forced to go to see my brother perform in Youth Theater, Adirondack Children's Troupe and Skidmore College productions. He usually had the lead roles, but I was more interested in checking out the lead lady.

Sure, seeing Joeseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway and Blue Man Group in a small NYC theater was cool, but my point is, I'm not "a theater guy."

Well, discovering the Mettawee River Theatre Company may have changed all that.

Ralph Lee is the visionary behind MRTC. Since the early 70's Lee has been adapting folk tales and myths from Egyptian, Greek, Native American and Myan cultures and incorporating his hand-made puppets to create full-on theatre productions.

Here is the first graph of his bio (Read the rest here):

Ralph Lee first created puppets as a child growing up in Middlebury, Vermont. He graduated from Amherst College in 1957, and studied dance and theater in Europe for two years on a Fulbright Scholarship. Upon returning to the United States, Lee acted on Broadway, off-Broadway, in regional theaters and with the Open Theatre. During that period he started creating masks, unusual props, puppets and larger-than-life figures for theater and dance companies, including the New York Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, the Living Theatre, the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, Shari Lewis and Saturday Night Live (he created the Land Shark).

The puppets aren't the talking kind you put on your hand. They are whimsical, detailed works of art that are pulled or worn by dancers. Some are enormous.

From the Web site

Performances are held both in the middle of a corn field in Salem, N.Y., and in theaters New York City. I'll be opting for the farm setting, where the audience sits on the grass and the show proceeds around you.

These "al-fresco" MRTC shows are few and far between, but I will surely have to experience this in the near future.

In the meantime I will create some artwork in response to MRTC. Add it to the list ... it's coming.


1 comment:

  1. I came across MRTC while working on a Washington County Tourism publication. I sent an e-mail asking if Mr. Lee worked from sketches. In a response I was told that he seldom works from sketches but rather creates small clay figures and then builds them to scale. I was also told that the schedule on their site is outdated. If you want an updated schedule, contact me at