Category: Puppet art

The BASTARDS on the road

THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE is on the road now, headed with a wink into its readers’ hands.

Available in ebook, trade hardcover, and bespoke editions from Roadswell Editions: the bespoke edition comes wrapped in silk, includes pages from the book’s research reading, and a memory box that holds mementos from the road.


M MacDonald BASTARDS 1

Listen to the launch reading in NYC, hosted in a second floor, red-lit bar where Istvan would surely have felt at home, and hear more about puppets and BASTARDS in the Virtual Memories podcast.

The first review“the final act in a grand epic, a smash of masks and puppetry even when the deep lines must be hidden with grease paint and kohl, the cough stifled with gin and laudanum” – sets the stage. And when another reader opines that I don’t know if I’ve ever felt such a rich and goddamn unending stream of emotions when reading a book”  . . . then that stage is well-set for its play of danger and darkness that, like a mask, hides truest love.



(Bespoke photos courtesy Margo MacDonald.)




Let us play

BASTARDS' proofs

The proofs have arrived: THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE is ready for the printer. Let us play!

“Hoopla,” he says. “The Mercury’s reopened!” in the shadow of the shrouded Wheel and bodiless hung masks, the dozen’s dozen bits of business and bric-a-brac that in the right hand, or hands, become whatever vision suggests or suggestion demands, what the gods decree or even the godlings, for power resides not only in the great, but is found everywhere that any magic, black or white, is made: and the smaller and more decrepit the better, for who suspects the decrepit, or the dead, or the wooden man with only one arm and one eye? “For one can’t have a theatre without a name, and the old name was the right one, don’t you think? Let the groundlings cry the Mercury, then! And let us play.” – from THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE




Here’s Rick Lieder’s beautifully evocative vision for THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE – the much-mended boots that have traveled so many roads, the body eternally in love – the front and back covers for the culminating volume in the UNDER THE POPPY trilogy, as Istvan and Rupert make their way, and their play, one final time.

The book’s in process for its late fall 2015 release from Roadswell Editions. THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE will be available in ebook, hardcover, and as a signed bespoke edition, with special one-of-a-kind extras paired to each copy; details and ordering information to come!

“. . . A world whose fine avenues and dire alleys, noisy taverns and velvet-draped townhouses have all been theirs, to take up and hold, then toss down careless as a pair of dice; how many lives they have lived, if only for a night! There have been nights when, his arms around sleeping Istvan, Rupert had felt immortal, as if the puppets and the concertina and even the truncheon had bestowed upon them some sweet form of everlasting life.”


The Bastards’ Paradise

– as that door opens, turned by a key, to admit in silence a figure of such strange opulence that he becomes the show just by entering, a man with a case in one bandaged hand and a black cigarette in the other, its acrid smoke to set the boys’ noses twitching as he takes a seat politely near the back. . . “Bravo,” says the man with the cigarette, dropping it to crush beneath a cracked boot heel; as he rises, something white winks at his ear, a pearl earring swinging as he opens his case and mounts the little stage as easily as if he has done so a thousand times before, accompanied now by a dark scrapwood creature, one-armed, one-eyed, who turns that singular stare upon the Faustus, so much larger yet demonstrably at a loss and “Pour faire changement,” says the man to his puppet. “Gentlemen and ladies, fellow players, I give you Mr. Loup.”

From the opening of THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE, coming in 2015 from Roadswell Editions, in ebook and bespoke versions. Wherein the wheel is spun, journeys are begun and concluded, lovers not lost are reunited, and play continues to offer its gifts to Rupert and Istvan, eternally the gentlemen of the road.

John Atkinson Grimshaw

“Moonlight After Rain,” John Atkinson Grimshaw

All the days and all the nights

Jean Mohr

Only Rupert is real, has ever been, through all the cold boyhood nights, the young men’s journeys, the play upon play upon play …

[Photo: Jean Mohr.]

The balance of love

“Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shapes of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.”  


Leonard Cohen salutes the particularity of saints in the passage above; to me it speaks particularly of Mercury, and of puppets, and of Istvan the puppeteer, especially as his character returns, revolves, evolves, in THE MERCURY WALTZ.

To continue to investigate, to plumb and parse the tricky, humorous, amorous, cloven and singular state of that character, that saintly monster of love and of play, was play, for me, of a very joyful order, a joy I hope translates to the reader when that play is mounted and the story is read. Not everyone will find that story speaks to her, to him, of course, and that’s as it should be: not every god – or monster – appeals to every ear. But for those who hear what this story has to say, welcome to the balance! Or welcome back.

hermes[Tiepolo’s Mercury Exhorting Aeneas to Leave Carthage, and Hermes by Thalia Took.]

World Puppetry Day with a master

Not all puppets wear strings …


A shout-out to Jan Svankmajer, whose constructed objects, ominous bricolage, and dark brio belong to all the best puppets, everywhere!

Make: believe

God in the Theatre quote

Delighted to have found this Poppy quote online while researching something else and other . . . A religious belief in the power of make-believe, yes indeed.

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