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Puppet People

Puppet People

Who: David Strassman
Where: Civic Theatre
Author: Jade Lazarevic
When: Wednesday January 14, 2004

US ventriloquist DAVID STRASSMAN is a big kid at heart and he's not afraid to admit it.

``I just have a lot of fun and I really enjoy what I do,'' Strassman said.

Strassman spends three months of the year on the road touring with his puppets, most notably CHUCK WOOD and TED E BARE, two characters which he believes have developed minds of their own.

His most well known puppet is Chuck Wood, a 13-year-old boy with a lack of tact and a penchant for mischief while the other, Ted E Bare, is just a lovable kind of character.

Those who have seen Strassman's stage show before would know to expect trouble when the twosome team up.

According to Strassman, his characters have evolved so much over the years they have developed their own character traits and almost become life- like.

``When I'm on stage, I make you believe they're real and in some ways they are real. It's not a guy demonstrating ventriloquism, these puppets are twisted! ``I really don't put myself into the character. I think that over the years the characters have evolved to have independent features.

``The puppets have different character traits fears, dreams, hopes, faults and desires and all those character traits form their characters and I think that gives them the perimeter in which they will react or not react in a situation, so it seems like they truly are alive.'' Strassman's production has taken the art of ventriloquism to the next level with the help of special effects and the help of some of the world's best designers.

Some of his characters have been made by the team who created the dinosaurs for the film JURASSIC PARK.

Strassman said that once he had an idea for a character, he is there from the beginning to take part in its creation.

``None of the characters are based on anyone I know. The character starts out with a basic look and I get professional designers to draw the artwork when I design the puppet.

``So I'm there from the ground up, approving sketches and designs and all that stuff.'' As well as Chuck Wood and Ted E Bare, Strassman has introduced a number of new characters to his show over the years including SID THE BEAVER and GRANDPA FRED.

All the characters will appear when Strassman brings his brand new show to CIVIC THEATRE NEWCASTLe for two performances on Saturday.

``My show is a highly theatrical production. I've got huge sound and light effects and robotics, I've got Chuck and Ted E talking back and forth, there's weird puppets roaming the theatre, it's a full-on production.

``Chuck's always getting into mischief and threatening to kick a guy in the front row and there's a segment where I bring people from the audience and I make them my dummy for the routine.'' Strassman's knack for ventriloquism comes from years of experience which has seen him become the master in his field.

He first took up the art in 1973, busking around New York City with a puppet he bought through mail order.

He worked at Central Park, Wall Street and Broadway and eventually travelled to Europe where he worked as a street ventriloquist in the West End.

He has since played across the globe including recent sell-out seasons at the GOLDEN NUGGET HOTEL in Las Vegas and at CORONET THEATRE in Los Angeles.

Bookings to Strassman can be made on 4929-1977.

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