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Sue Hastings: Puppet Showwoman

Book: SUE HASTINGS: PUPPET SHOWWOMAN, by Dorlis Grubidge, published by Charlemagne Press: North Vancouver, Canada,1993, IBSN :0-921845-15-4. Available from The Puppetry Store, 1525 24th St. S.E., Auburn, WA 98002. Price U.S.$25.00. This book retains the footnotes, bibliography, and appendices of puppeteers and reviews/plays found in the original 1989 Dissertation, (available from University Microfilms International Dissertation Services, P.O. box 1764, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-1346, USA for U.S. $36.50), but includes many more pictures of Hastings puppets and anecdotal materials submitted by those who worked with Sue Hastings.

Sue Hastings, 1884-1977, has been given scant recognition for her work in puppetry, 1924-1942; an oversight which the book intends to right along with giving a description of the types, amounts and diversity of puppetry in the pre-television era. Sue Hastings built and maintained a major and successful puppetry company despite such set backs as a major fire in her New York City studio and the Great Depression. At the height of her career Hastings had over 2,000 marionettes and multiple touring units engaged in entertainment and commercial ventures from "little Gloria Vanderbuilt's birthday parties" to department store modeling of clothes (Yes! With puppets!) and Broadway musicals. Some of the most interesting, and here-to-fore unpublished accounts reveal the day to day struggles and triumphs of the Hastings puppeteers who toured on the Chautauqua circuits.

In addition to the diversity of the Hastings Company, it was known for quality puppet theatre which successfully challenged the contemporary thinking that linked puppet theatre with children. In telling the Sue Hastings story, the book also informs regarding the work of other major puppet companies of the period.

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