Meet Margaret Moody, a dedicated Puppeteer with over 30 years’ experience creating hand puppets and writing shows for all ages. ACAC is proud to highlight Margaret and her valuable contribution to the Arlington arts community! Margaret is a member of ArtLinks Arlington, the networking organization for artists in Arlington and surrounding communities.
I am a hand puppeteer, performing in libraries, preschools, community centers and at parties. Usually you see just a flash of me behind the stage, but I’m starting to appear in front of the stage, too.
Studying with master puppeteer Li Tien-lu in Taiwan was an enormous influence on my work. Master Li performed Bu Dai Xi, “cloth bag theater,” a traditional art that presented a miniature world of clowns, scholars, ladies, and supernatural beings. Because Bu Dai Xi puppets fit very well on the hand, the puppeteer can make the puppet walk, run, and jump in myriad lifelike ways. Master Li’s greatest hope was that Bu Dai Xi puppetry would have a place in the modern world. He and his sons taught students from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, France – as well as my good friend Madeleine Beresford and me.
After our 1987 debut at the Manhattan Children’s Museum, Madeleine and I toured schools with episodes of the Chinese epic “Journey to the West” featuring the Monkey King and his magical partners, the rowdy pig Ju Ba-Jye and monk Tang San-Dzang. My favorite role was the Monkey King, who is mischievous, impatient, and yet able to outsmart both demons and bureaucrats.
1987 is not a typo! I’ve spent more than 30 years with puppets on my hands. Because traveling to meet Madeleine in New Jersey was hard when we both had small children, I started performing solo shows as well as our two-person repertoire. Arlington artist Sandra Pastrana helped me create fairies that fit the hand as Taiwanese Bu Dai Xi puppets do. The fairy puppets can fly through the air, just as I think fairies should.
My puppet shows are increasingly aimed at young children. There are more chances to perform for those 5 and under than for children of school age. For many years, I felt that preschool stories were too simple to be interesting. I don’t think that anymore!
To read the entire article about our Featured Artist Margaret Moody, including photos of her work, go here!