Looking for a Central Park destination that’s both quaint and Swedish? Then look no further than the Swedish Cottage on West Drive.
This beautiful cottage was built in Sweden and sent to the United States for display at the Centennial Exposition in Philiadelphia in 1876. When Philadelphia refused to pay delivery charges, the New York City Board of Commissioners took possession of the cottage and delivered it to its present site in 1877.
The charming birch log cabin was used for many activities until 1947 when Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, sensing a need for more string based puppet entertainment in New York City, gave the cottage to the Travelling Marionette Theater to use as a performance space.
The Travelling Marionette Theater, or TMT, was at the forefront of the avant garde puppet movement that would sweep through the children’s theater community in the 1950s. Starting with their inaugural season in 1947, the TMT enthralled their pint sized audiences with productions of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, The Antigone by Sophocles, and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest which featured a then unknown Howdy Doody in the role of Algernon Moncrieff.
The TMT almost lost their residency in 1974 when they staged a production of the controversial play Equus, which featured the first fully nude performance by a marionette. Luckily the New York theater critics came to the defense of the TMT, calling their production of Equus “a fascinating exploration of social morals with really cute horsey puppets.”
Over the past few decades the TMT has dialed back the controversy and produced more traditional children’s plays like Peter And The Wolf and Hansel And Gretel. But the company hasn’t been without it’s milestones in the 21st century. It was recently announced the TMT will be the first all marionette production company to stage Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark if and when the rights become available.