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Friday, July 7, 2023

Daren Dundee/Ken Samoray, My Puppetry Mentor

For a generation the children of Mount Clemens were blessed with the puppetry of Daren Dundee.  That was the stage name of Ken Samoray.  He came to the local library after retiring as a probation officer to begin his new career as a puppeteer and magician.

Every month during the school year he put on a puppet show, ending the season with "Stump the Puppeteer", encouraging the children to bring in something he might not be able to turn into a puppet.  The man's creativity was absolutely boundless!  The one that sticks in my memory is somebody in the days before cell phones brought a toy telephone.  He upended the receiver and turned it into "Alexander Graham Bull"!

He was also very active in the local Detroit Puppeteers Guild for a quarter of a century.  Through him I met "anybody who was anybody" in our local world of puppetry.  I, too, became an active Guild member.  His puppet shows really grabbed the kids . . . Try being in a darkened auditorium with a headache when flashes of light are ghosts all around flying all about the walls and ceiling!  The delighted screams of the young audience would either kill or cure your headache!  After a show he would generally come out and show a behind the scenes view of how everything was done.

As an eager puppetry student observing his work, I found I feel most at home with his work when it was not a play, but a puppet sidekick, including as a "walkabout.  Here on this blog I find I have 25 (one for each year of his performing!) articles on puppets . . .  how appropriate and with this article I will continue my involvement in it.

The sheer creativity of Daren/Ken went beyond even puppetry and magic as he entered and won many prizes for his art made from found objects.  He sent me a book wanting to share some of that work.  I'm going to let it speak for him.  Here are a few (there were more in the little album he sent me!):

I don't know what he called this, but I call it Ken's Samurai

His tee shirt says "In my defense, I was left unsupervised"

Some of his art awards

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