By Summer Evans, WABE, June 16, 2021
In 1982, when The Muppets’ creative duo of Jim Henson and Frank Oz decided to stretch their puppetry into the reaches of a feature film, they brought a fantasy world to life with the movie “The Dark Crystal.”
Almost 40 years later, the World of Thra graced our screens again with 2019’s Netflix series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.”
The Netflix series presented us with new puppet characters facing new challenges, and the actual puppets from the Netflix series are coming to Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts.
“City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with the center’s museum director, Sarah Dylla, about their special exhibit.
How this show brings people into the world of Thra:
“In this exhibition, we try to give a bit of a backstory so those who are a part of that strong fan base and those who are not familiar with the story can all find something to enjoy, appreciate and learn from it. So you’ll see a lot of comparisons between the two productions — from the 1982 feature film and the 2019 series,” said Dylla.
She continued, “This project, ‘Age of Resistance,’ really is a huge undertaking and huge labor of love and artistry for a whole community of puppeteers and artists. The production included 75 sets all created to take viewers into different climates and different zones of the world of Thra. It employed 500 employs of all different types, 83 of whom were puppeteers. There were 175 puppets. So, something we wanted viewers to take away is truly the massive amount of labor and creativity that projects like this entail.”
How this exhibit displays the inner workings of the puppets:
“Something special about this exhibit is that there is a base point for comparison. It is a reboot of a story that was one of Jim Henson’s forays into creating entire fantastical worlds with puppetry and sets. In looking at those puppets and props from the 1982 film and comparing them to now, you can see how things changed, but also how the field and the process of puppetry has stayed the same. We have a section in the book where we look at the production of arms and hands on Skeksis puppets. There are a series of arms that show how the puppet builders put together the arm to be able to have it articulate and move in the right way. You can see the arm from 1982 and then you can see the arm from the more recent Netflix series.”
Masterpiece of Puppetry: “Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is on view June 18 through Oct. 31.