Celebrating Community Through Camp: Bob Baker

Since 1963, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater has been part of the Angeleno Community; since then, imagination and fantasy continue to thrive in Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark #958. With over 200 performances a year, utilizing over 2000 handcrafted puppets, the organization caters to birthday parties, school groups, weddings, and community functions of all sorts. After 50 years of having entertained over one million children of all ages, we are proud and excited for 50 more years of pulling the strings of family fun! Today, our mission is to provide unique theatrical experiences; to educate, celebrate and rejuvenate puppetry and the allied arts. Furthermore, Bob Baker Marionette Theater is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and we are excited to offer special events, workshops, summer camps, performances, and more to share this incredible art with our community.

The Bob Baker team consists of everyone from career puppeteers to neighborhood kids who grew up watching Bob’s shows, to everything in between! In anticipation of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater’s workshops during the Kidspace 2018 summer camp season, we would like to introduce you to some of the Bob Baker puppeteers and staff members who pull the strings of family fun at the Theater. We will see you this summer!

Cain Carias (Puppet Minister)

I came to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater when i was 13 years old, I was in 8th grade in high school. The Theater is actually one block away3288 from the high school I used to go to...one of my friends invited me to see a show, and in my mind I thought it was a movie theater I never expected puppets. I saw a show and it just brought me so much joy and peace to see everyone around you smiling, laughing, just having a wonderful time and most importantly having fun with the whole family.

I asked Bob to let me volunteer cause it was super cool what they had been doing for 40 years! I was a volunteer for 2 years and after I got out of high school I was hired full time. The theater helped me in a way many people wouldn't understand because of the way I grew up and where I am from, it gave me my first job and kept me and my family off of the streets. I was at the Theater putting shows for kids of all ages, not only did I personally know Bob Baker, but I was actually the last person he trained himself before he passed almost 4 years ago. Now, I am the one training and teaching the puppeteers at the Theater, and I want to keep this art alive and put it back on the map just like back in the day. The love that Bob haD for this amazing art is so contagious… I just want to show off the work he has done for this world… and the best way for me to do that is by teaching others. I can't wait to actually have my own class and just make and talk about puppets! This is now my passion as well and I will dedicate my life just like Bob Baker did to keep puppetry alive. I have been at the Theater 17 years and counting. I am 30 years old, and I will be 75 years old when the theater turns 100.

3285 Ginger Duncan (Puppeteer)

As a little girl, I was immediately drawn to the kind of children's entertainment I liked to call "real". This included anything three-dimensional and handmade; pop-up books, stop motion, experimental animation, museums, theme parks... but most importantly, puppets. Though I understood early on that these things weren't real like me or the world I was getting to know around me, I wanted to believe they were and so my imagination was inspired and made the impossible, possible. My first visit to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater was at 8 years old. The experience of something seemingly alive only within its walls mystified, intrigued and fulfilled everything that I needed as a child - music, colors, aforementioned "real" things, artistic expression and that good old imagination. I accredit my early life experiences at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater to the evolution of a lifelong love for handmade and performance art, and absolutely why I've earned the honor of becoming a Bob Baker Puppeteer.

Puppets continue to teach me about myself and others every day. Working at the theater, I've come to understand their healing properties in surprising ways - I call them magical creatures, not to romanticize them, but because I truly believe it. They alone have the uncanny ability to teach hard lessons in a gentle way because of their simplicity and innocence, and the freedom of honesty to make a person of any age smile. To me, puppets encourage the young mind to believe anything is possible, hopeful and that reality is still a safe place to be in, because life is very real and the tangible makes anything possible.

Winona Bechtle (Director of Development)3286

I first came to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater when I was 5 years old for my birthday party. As a native Angeleno, I remember Bob as a presence in my life at birthday parties, Nutcracker performance, and special events. Puppetry was my first experience with Theater, and one I carried with me for my entire life.

When I grew up and began working in nonprofit arts organizations, I kept coming back to the Bob Baker with friends both young and old to show them the magic of Bob’s one hour puppet shows that completely transported his audience to another world. The level of craftsmanship, musical wit, empathy, and skill in each of Bob Baker’s shows is unparalleled. In recent years since I’ve come on as the Theater’s Director of Development, we are incredibly excited to branch out and share some of this magic-- whether it is theater lighting, puppetry, mold making, painting, and more-- with our audience through special performances, traveling shows, workshops, summer camps, and more.

 

3287 Eric de la Cruz (Puppeteer)

I’ve known Bob Baker since I was 7 years old. I used to mow his lawn with my Uncle Alex and at the age of 15 I asked Bob for a n internship at the Theater and he asked me to come down to see a show the following week. I remember seeing a show at the age of 5 but don’t remember what show it was, I do remember the red carpet though! Being 15 and seeing an amazing Christmas show I was blown away, Bob gave me a tour of the shop right afterwards. Bob during this time was working on a big project for Disney (Nightmare Before Christmas). I was very happy that Bob took me under his wing to be part of this big project. Working with Bob was amazing, and he had so many ideas and was a great teacher. It was not until we finished a series of Nightmare Before Christmas Disney puppets when I knew I wanted to continue doing the art of puppetry for the rest of my life. Bob Baker was a wonderful puppet master and great mentor who I will always look up to and adore.

Find out more about Kidspace Camp with Bob Baker Marionette Theater here.