Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pinocchio in Prague

Prague is a city of puppets, my kind of place. There are several puppet theaters that do a very nice business. Some are black light tourist traps. Some legitimate theatres with miniature performances. There was a poster for a "black light" puppet performance of the musical "Cats". The mere thought of it made me want to stick pins in my eyes. The advertisements looked like a psychedelic hair ball fest.
We did attend a production of Mozart's "Don Giovani" at the National Puppet Theatre. It was interesting seeing an opera done by puppets in the Italian language at a theatre in Prague. The production was good, but I thought they treated the puppets a little rough. When the puppets smacked each other they really hit, wood on wood and there were several fight scenes. I guess what I am saying is that the puppets didn't pull their punches on stage. (Yes I do know how crazy that sounds...nonetheless). All I could think of was the repair and paint job that would be required after every performance. At any rate.
At every souvenir place they sell puppets, good, bad, cheap, expensive, creative and just stupid marionetts. There is a common theme however. All have witches, orthodox hebrews, Charlie Chaplin and of course Pinocchio puppets. There is a large jewish history, and they claim Pinocchio was born here, but Charlie Chaplin? I have no clue.
It was the prevalence of Pinocchio that reminded me of a story. Years ago during the days of the television show "Dave's World", the blond sexy ingenue was J C Wendel. She was and still is a cutie. One evening during those days she was at a super market shopping, when she realized she was being followed. It was actor Martin Landau, a character actor who played many varied roles. One was Bella Lugosi in the movie Ed Wood, which Johnny Depp fans might remember, He also played Geppetto in a cable production of Pinocchio that probably no one saw but me. At every turn he tried to engage J C in unwanted conversation, but Matin Landau was not her type nor even close to her age.
Finally as she was putting the groceries in the trunk of her car she noticed that he was approaching her in the parking lot. He wanted to know if she would accompany him for a drink since he had just gotten back in town. He said, "I just wrapped 'Pinocchio' in Prague".
JC looked him in the eye and said, "I don't care if you wrap it in a 20 dollar bill, I'm not interested."
Pinocchio in Prague will alway make me laugh.
As you were,
"Jay Johnson: The Two and Only". - Historic Thalian Hall - North Carolina - Sept. 15, 2012 --- be there.


Dave Robison said...

When I visited Prague a few years back I found the Marionette Shop on Nerudova? The one with the doors with faces on it that says "Loutkey Puppets" a fairly famous facade.

I purchased a "drunken Scotsman" made of porcelain. He is in my photos on Facebook and I had someone snap a picture of me surrounded by all the hanging marionettes. Still wish I had had the funds to purchase the Don Quixote there.

Wonderful city, Prague...I hope you tried the pork knee.

Dan Christopher said...

Jay, I believe Martin Landau is still alive...


Dan, thanks you are exactly right, Mr. Landau is still alive and probably pissed off that I repeated this story. The word
"late" has been removed from the blog. I will include his name in the periodic appologies that appear here.
Thanks for reading .