The Clockworks Theatre Breathes Life into Puppets, Waterfront District


A little birdie recently put it in our ear that a new theater would be opening in the Columbia Waterfront district.  Turns out, it’s not just any old theater, but the rebirth of a puppet theater called The Clockworks run by a fine gentleman named Jonny Clockworks.  We caught up with Mr. Clockworks this week to ask about the opening day celebration tomorrow, April 30, their May Day puppet show for kids and what he’s got in store for the new space.  Stop by and check out the free sidewalk spectacle beginning at 7:30pm and stay for a show. How old are you?

Jonny Clockworks: YES

BTB: Where are you from originally? When did you come to New York?

JC: I grew up in New Hampshire, lived in Boston 5 years, and moved to the city {East Village/Alphabet City} in 1991.

BTB: What made you want to bring the Cosmic Bicycle Theater to the Columbia
Waterfront district?

JC: I am a big believer in Community. When I moved to the East Village it was a REAL Neighborhood. Opened “The ClockWorks” { “experimental puppetry theatre” at that time} in 1995. By the time we left in 2000 the “neighborhood” feel was pretty much gone. I have been living in Carroll Gardens since 2005. The big draw was it was a real neighborhood. I was searching from the Gowanus to the waterfront, dreaming of opening a venue here. I was developing my skills as a teaching artist at that time. This time i was planning programming for kidz and adultz, very much in the European Puppet Theatre model. It so happened that the PERFECT space opened up and I leapt.

BTB: How did you find the new space? Did you have to renovate?

I looked over in the “Columbia Waterfront District” {North Redhook, let’s face it!} several years back, and feared that people just wouldn’t come over here. Maybe some Brooklynites at the time, but Manhattanites? Fugget About it! That all changed in just a few years. Brooklyn took over as artist headquarters, but as a Carroll Gardens neighborhood guy, I was not really looking to go to Billsburg or Bushwick. Change starts at home. So, my work started drying up, the economy went in the hopper, {My economy sooner than most} and I decided it was now or get the hell outta NYC. So I found the space on craigslist, of all places. I walked over, and remembered the antique furniture store that I used to peruse there. {“General Nightmare” of all the cool names! }

I am STILL renovating and we open in 3 days. Amazing OLD Building. About 140 years old hearkening back to when they first filled in the waterfront and built the neighborhood. I am only the 3rd business to be in here since it was built as a Hardware store for the shipping area down here. Original wooden floors, tin ceilings & wainscoting … Had not been painted in probably 30 years either.

BTB: What will the Cosmic Bicycle Theater bring to Brooklyn?

The Best Puppet Theatre Company in NYC, “The Cosmic Bicycle Theatre”, Our {My} Resident Company! Plus lot’s of other great puppetry artists from about the city and globe. Children’s programming and classes, and eventually a Kidz Company as well.

BTB: Can you describe the Der WunderKammer Puppet Kabaret scheduled for opening

JC: The “Kabaret” will be a Monthly series featuring short humorous or shocking or experimental works by a variety of artists working in the field today. A buffet of acts for ‘mature’ audiences.

BTB: What are some of the upcoming projects you hope to produce in the space?

In addition to our Kidz Matinee program starting in May we will feature a revival of our “Evening of Miniature Masterpieces” a evening of small scale philosophical and whimsical works. In the fall we hope to premiere our full scale “Scenes from the Puppet FreakSHOW” featuring our ‘signature’ styled assemblage puppets and automata.

The Clockworks Theater is located at 196 Columbia Street between Degraw and Sackett Streets in the Columbia Waterfront District right near the Brooklyn Collective.

Nicole Brydson Written by:

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