A Visit to One of America's Longest-Running Puppetry Theaters - Atlas Obscura

A Visit to One of America’s Longest-Running Puppetry Theaters

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater has been serving up laughs and ice cream since 1963.

Los Angeles’ Bob Baker Marionette Theater is one of the longest-running puppetry theaters in the United States*. After seeing his first puppet show at the age of six, Bob Baker became enamored with puppetry and later dedicated himself to its craft and artistry. He co-founded his theater with Alton Wood in 1963, amassing a collection of more than 2,000 handmade marionettes over the decades.

Baker died in 2014, but the theater’s work continues. Creative Director Alex Evans says that Baker’s “soul and heart is alive and well” through their ongoing live performances. Evans describes the shows as “free of cynicism or messaging… it’s just watch your beautiful puppet dance.” Ice cream is handed out after each performance, a tradition since the theater’s earliest days.

“One of the things that I love, when I was performing, the little child will look up at you and laugh,” said Baker in a recording. “It’s a wonderful sound. I wish I could go all over the world doing that.”

In the video above, Atlas Obscura takes a behind-the-scenes look at the history behind the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, which soon plans to relocate to a new space in Los Angeles.

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*Correction: An earlier version of this article imprecisely identified the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as the U.S.’s longest-running puppetry theater. It is in fact among the longest-running puppetry theaters in the U.S.