Hand made marionette prop depicting a paperback book. It was manufactured and operated in Melbourne by Alex and Murray Smith, who performed as part of Le Forgeron Marionettes from 1930 until 1956.
Marionette prop depicting a paperback book, It is constructed from a real book, which has been cut to size. A piece of string thread through two holes in binding holds it together. The covers are roughly painted in black.
On 11 May 1935, Melbourne's Argus newspaper published a piece about a local theatre company of '150 actors who sleep in a storeroom'. Almost 70 years later, and 50 years after their last performance, the same group awoke and made the journey to the museum. They are the puppets from Le Forgeron Marionettes, made and operated by a Melbourne family from the 1920s until 1956, including a residency at a purpose-built theatre in St Kilda's landmark Luna Park.
Scottish-born cabinet-maker Alex Smith took up puppetry as a hobby when he was a boy. Later, after performing in London, he moved his family to Melbourne in 1927, where his hobby became a full-time occupation. He and his wife and son made the marionettes, dressed them, constructed the sets, wrote the scripts and carried out the onstage and backstage functions needed to perform the plays. As well as performing in its permanent theatre, the company appeared at department stores, schools, town halls, church functions, private parties and various charity events.
Donation from Kaye Smith, Murray Smith, 21/11/2002
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