LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Meet Taffy, the wonder dog, Louisa, the acrobat, Liza, the showstopper, and Mo Sho Long, the traditional Chinese illusionist — all marionettes built and operated by puppeteer Phil Huber.
“I like to create something people notice and respond to, and I guess that’s the essence of theater really,” he says.
“He does six different illusions. He has 32 strings and it took two and a half years to build and design him,” he explains.
“I knew his grand finale was he was going to change into a Chinese dragon and so I had to reverse engineer. I had to figure out how to go from a Chinese dragon to the body of the magician himself and that’s where I built the dragon first.”
Of all the STEAM disciplines — science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics — Huber relies on engineering, art and math.
“Geometry was a big help for me because I’m thinking about the angles the things are moving,” he says.
As for engineering, “you have to be thinking about how much pull on a string is required to get the movement that’s going to happen down below.”
Once joints are perfected, costumes are sewn and strings are set for just the right pull, Huber and his puppets become one and the same.
“I’m thinking happy dog,” he says, referring to Taffy. “That’s what I become. My whole focus is that I live through a dog at that moment.”
Huber’s advice for anyone struggling to set their path?
“Find your passion, number one — something that you really are interested in.”
From there, “find and talk to people that are doing the things you’re interested in. Explore it from all angles and then make it your own,” he says.