An eye-opening exhibition of a ground-breaking 20th-century American puppeteer, Dick Myers, is now on display at the Ballard Museum. “Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers” is a fascinating in-depth look at a puppeteer’s puppeteer—an innovative and ingenious designer, builder, and performer whose work, while highly respected in the international world of puppetry, never brought him fame.
Curated by Puppet Arts Program graduate student Seth Shaffer, “Exceptional and Uncommon” brings together scores of rod puppets, marionettes, and hand puppets designed and performed by Myers; innovative sound, lighting, and stage equipment he designed; photographs of Myers at work and in performance; and a documentary video filmed and edited by Shaffer in which Myers’s friends and colleagues describe his work and his life.
Dick Myers was one of the leading American puppeteers of the later 20th century. Although his work is now relatively unknown, in its time his puppet shows were highly respected by puppeteers around the world for the compelling and original design of the puppets, Myers’ skillful manipulation, and the challenging tasks he set out and achieved with his creations.
In the early years of his career Dick Myers worked with many well-known puppeteers including Connecticut’s Rufus and Margo Rose, and Martin and Olga Stevens of Indiana. He was, however, best known for his unique solo rod puppet shows: Dick Whittington’s Cat (1966), Cinderella (1967), Beauty and the Beast (1969), Simple Simon (1976), and Divertissement (1978).
“Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers” is a revelatory and thought-provoking window into puppetry of the late 20th century, when American puppeteers combined technological innovations with home-grown humor and popular culture in order to re-define puppetry as an aspect of contemporary American culture.