Matthew Owens has been designing his own puppets and staging performances since the beginning of quarantine.
After getting furloughed from his job at the Brookview Zoo, Matthew Owens didn’t rest on his laurels. Instead, he got to work on designing puppets. Soon thereafter, Owens took his star puppet to the stage of his apartment window where has been holding his Lockdown Puppet Theater — a series of delightful performances for the neighborhood .
Throughout his life, Owens has been heavily involved in the performance industry — producing art, theater, and film as well as working in curating art programs, designing costumes, sets, and props. For the last dozen years, he’s been an animal enrichment device designer for Disney Animal Kingdom, San Diego Zoo, and a number of other zoos across the country. Most recently, he was working for the Brookview Zoo, where he designed and produced creative devices for animals for entertainment and other specific purposes. Back in March, Owens was furloughed when the stay-at-home order was put into place.
Having some free time on his hands, Owens started creating his own puppets.
“I have produced approximately 35 puppets since the quarantine began and I was furloughed from my job from the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago because of the quarantine,” Owens wrote on his blog.
“I began making only one puppet to perform at night with a spotlight on it from my apartment window. The process proved so satisfying that I started making more, as much for me as for the neighbors. It evolved into a circus theme, somehow.”
For gleeful audience members, or anyone reading this blog, it takes only one look at Owen’s puppets to realize that he’s done this before. Indeed, elsewhere in his prolific career, Owens was previously a puppet designer for the Tim Robbins feature film “Cradle Will Rock”, Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, “Amistad” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and more.
“We get to distract people from just how heavy the world can be,” Owens told CBS Chicago. “You don’t have to ask too much of people to be thrilled.”
Owen’s specific address in Lakeview is a secret. So next time you’re in the area, keep your eyes peeled for puppets!
[Featured image via daysofquarantinepandemic.com]