Puppeteer Margo Lovelace
Founder of Lovelace Marionette Theater:
Formed in 1949 as a travelling puppet theatre, it found a permanent home in 1964 in Pittsburgh, the first such venue for a puppet theatre company in the United States.
Bit by the entertainment bug:
When she saw productions of Cyrano and Hamlet when she was seven, “and I thought, “This is wonderful.” Then, “In third grade I wrote and produced my first play because I found that it was perfect way to get out of arithmetic!”
Descended from a long line of creative types:
And even one mathematician, the famous Ada Lovelace, who worked with Charles Babbage on the first computer. “She wrote the first code, and there is a code named the Ada Code for computer whizzes—which I am not.”
On the magic of puppets:
“People really believe when the puppet dies. You don’t really do that in a movie or a play, because you know the actor isn’t dead. But if you get lured into puppet theater, all disbelief is gone—anything is possible. And that’s what hooked me.”
She also loves the world of puppets because:
“I don’t think I’ve ever been interested in reality—now that’s weird for somebody who has children, what’s more real than that?”
On her puppet production of Cocteau’s The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower:
“To me, the thrill was taking something that was so outrageous and seeing if we could do it, that the audience wouldn’t throw things or boo or whatever, and it was the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever experienced.”
On capturing the attention of children:
“Let me tell you: if you can get children to sit absolutely silently for half an hour, and then another half an hour, you’re doing well. Especially if there’s no song and dance, because there was none of that in our shows. It was haiku. If the set was Japanese, it was gongs and lutes and strange music. And they loved it!”
Margo’s work was inspired by Bunraku (Japanese puppet theater) and the dedication to the craft of puppetry she witnessed during her 1967 USSR trip, when she saw three shows a day for a month. “That saturation showed me what was possible.”
Visit her puppets:
Margo’s puppets are part of the collection of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. “Hopefully some day they will inspire someone.”
Advice for young artists:
“Do it because you love it. Don’t expect anything except joy.”
Margo is part of a very special community of unique individuals who reside at The Actors Fund's Lillian Booth Actors Home. The Home is the jewel in The Fund’s housing crown and a recipient of U.S. News and World Report’s coveted “Best Nursing Homes in America” award, bestowed on the best 2,700 of the 17,000 facilities nationwide. Our 124 residents represent a diverse cross-selection of the entertainment industry—from stagehands to writers to producers and, of course, dancers and actors, too. Nearly every entertainment union is represented under one roof in Englewood, New Jersey.
This interview originally appeared in Marquee, the official newsletter of The Actors Fund. Join The Fund today! Not only will you receive your own copy of Marquee twice yearly, plus all the benefits of membership, you'll also play an important role in helping everyone in our creative community in times of need, crisis or transition and continue The Actors Fund tradition of caring for our own in entertainment.
Top photo: Joann Coates