Sundae Horn
Tom Benn and Blackbeard
Tom Benn and Blackbeard

Do you long to control someone’s every move? To make him dance, or jump, or nod his head?

To manipulate her into doing just what you want? If you’re thinking “Who doesn’t?” then this week’s marionette workshop at Deepwater Theater is perfect for you.

Puppeteers Deb and Mark Kasten will show you the tricks of their trade – how to create and control a little person of your very own.

They’re bringing the cast of the North Carolina Marionette Theatre to the island this Friday for performances and workshops at Ocracoke School, sponsored by Ocracoke Alive.. They’ll present the play “Tom Benn and the Blackbeard the Pirate” in the morning, and spend the afternoon working with the students. Deb will teach the younger students how to make scarf marionettes and use them to teach the kids basic puppeteering movements. She’s bringing her “Book Theatre,” and will let the kids practice working with stories and using scenery.

Older students will work with Mark, learning about what goes on behind the scenes, including lighting, sound, and how the stage works.

Friday evening, the fun opens up to the public. For a $30 class fee, adults and kids can sign up for the 2-session workshop. The first session (Friday, 7 –8:30 p.m.) will focus on marionette manipulation using Deb and Mark’s puppets, and learning about how the marionettes are made. In session two (Saturday, 1 ­­­­– 2:30 p.m.), participants will make their own scarf marionette to keep.

Deb began her performing career as a professional opera singer, and also has a degree in music education. While studying opera in Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg, Austria, she became fascinated by the Salzburg Marionettes and thought she’d like try her hand at puppeteering some day.

Years later, Deb and Mark pulled a few strings and founded the North Carolina Marionette Theatre. They hand make all their marionettes, costumes, and scenery, and enjoy sharing traditional Outer Banks stories.

Last summer, they spent Tuesday afternoons on Ocracoke at Deepwater Theater for weekly performances of “Tom Benn and Blackbeard the Pirate.” This winter, they’re working on a brand new play, a marionette version of “The Legend of the White Doe,” a folktale about the fate of Virginia Dare. Plan to see it this summer at Deepwater Theater.

Until then, you can join them Friday and Saturday and learn to pull a few strings yourself. Get that little puppet to do just what you want! Deb understands the desire to manipulate. She posted this on the NC Marionette Theatre website: “I tell my kids that as they grow up and I have to let go of my control over them I can focus on controlling my little marionettes instead.”

To reserve your place at the workshop, please contact Marcy Brenner at or 252-256-2081. Adults and students are welcome!

For a sneak peak at the puppets, check out these videos:

Tom Benn and Blackbeard the Pirate: