City Guides Featured Segovia

Segovia: Coleccion de Titeres de Francisco Peralta

If your visit to Segovia was a one day dash to see the Aquaduct, the Alcazar, and the Cathedral, you missed a plethora of interesting museums and exhibits.  Hiding away in the upper floors of the Puerto de Santiago is the Coleccion de Titeres de Francisco Peralta.  This was a stumble-upon for me while out walking my first day in Segovia.  But that is the beauty of getting off the main drag, getting off the tour, slowing down, and doing what used to be called “slumming” – that is, walking around just to see what there is to see.  No goal.  No destination.  No guarantee of anything interesting.

Of course the place was closed the afternoon when I stumbled upon it, so I wandered back the next day when it was open. The museum houses puppets from Peralta’s career, so you see the various types of puppets that he built. The puppets, themselves, were complex. Complex creations in their design and making, but also in their emotions and stories. The skill, craftmanship, selection of materials, interpretation, fabrics, and clothing styles – the puppets really seemed to come to life as I looked at (watched?) them while listening to the pre-recorded audio tour.

The pre-recorded audio part is well worth the time to listen to while you gaze at the puppets.  It provides background on Peralta and the stories that the puppets were created to tell.  Peralta was born in 1930 and passed away in January, 2018 (according to his facebook page).  He started off learning to be a sculpter, and made puppets – designing and building them, as well as performing with them – his career.

I really loved that Peralta used stories from adult books, musicals, & operas, rather than the typical children’s fare presented now-a-days in the USA.  His puppets told stories for adults – you could imagine them running around the museum whispering in each other’s ear, gossiping, stealing a kiss, or crying out their sufferings and woes. I had given puppets very little thought beyond my childhood as I had moved on to more adult themes, stories, crafts, and work. In today’s world, we have relegated imagination to the domain of children (or maybe we have lost it entirely), and superseded it with extreme realism (in the form of explicit violence in TV shows and movies) for adults. The days of cutely hinted at violence as seen in old TV shows like “Get Smart” are long gone. And puppet shows for adults don’t exist.

After I returned home from my trip, I bought a book providing construction and design information for making puppets/marionettes, and I continue to fantasize about making one or two. Since I moved to Arizona, I now have access to woodworking tools and space. My Dad does wood-turning, and my Mom was a quilter. I have a fascination with mechanical things – and have done a little sewing, painting, wood-working, and scale model-making. Making string marionettes would be a the ultimate fusion of these crafts and talents.

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