From our offices we can look down into the rehearsal hall, where actors Mandy Patinkin, Hannah Cabell, and Matte Osian, along with director Oskar Eustis and puppeteers Emily DeCola, Daniel Fay, and Eric Wright are working their way through Rinne Groff's Compulsion, our season opener.
Perhaps more than with other plays that have rehearsed below us, we keep getting distracted by the Compulsion rehearsals because the puppeteers are performing atop a scaffolding that makes them eye level with our desks. And also there's the simple fact that puppets &8212; marionettes in this case &8212; are absolutely fascinating to watch.
Why look at a computer screen when you can see puppet representations of Anne Frank and Otto Frank being put through their motions. Talk about compulsive observation!
The American Theatre Wing, the people who, among other things, bring us the Tony Awards, also features theatre artists on its website in a feature called "In the Wings." And it just so happens that earlier this month, they focused their cameras on Emily DeCola, one of our very own puppeteers.
Emily, along with fellow Compulsion puppeteer Eric Wright, is a founder of The Puppet Kitchen, a full-service puppet studio on New York's East Village. She is charming and talented, as you'll see in this video.
I saw this production at the Yale Rep last winter and it is wonderful. At first the notion of puppets was a little distracting, but the puppeteers were so good at their craft, that very shortly into the play they were seamless and the puppets became kind of the Greek Chorus. It was a really innovative addition to the play. And, Mandy Patinkin was completely awesome.