Between 1936 and 1955, Elizabeth L. Haines' puppet play, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," went through many revisions, dependent on whether she and her husband, Frank D. Haines, were performing before adult audiences or school groups in the Philadelphia area.
The adult version focused on a love triangle between Bob, a wealthy antique gun and armour collector, and two women, Sandy and Fay, set in a New York City hotel lobby. Fay accidentally shoots Bob with one of his antique guns after demanding him to get rid of his antique armour collection before their marriage. He falls in a concussion-induced dream state into deep sleep and finds himself transported back to the 6th-century world of Camelot.
In both the adult and children's version, Bob faces being burned at the stake for being seen as a foreigner but ultimately manages to outwit his rival, Merlin the Magician, escaping back to the 20th century. In the adult version, Bob ends up proposing to old friend, Sandy, and following her to Europe, likely a reference to a recently produced 1927 Broadway musical written by Richard Rodgers and Lorentz Hart.
The puppet play called for an elaborate set of 20 stage props, many collapsible for portability, a backdrop, and 9 marionettes. It bore little resemblance to the original 1889 novel published by humorist, Mark Twain, - a satire of 19th century romance of medieval heraldry and class divisions, causes he believed led to the Civil War.
Twain's time travel story - which spawned the work of many 20th century science fiction writers and movie producers - focused on the adventures of a wealthy Connecticut gun manufacturer, Hank Morgan, who falls into a dream state after suffering a concussion when beaten by a disgruntled laborer. On becoming a the trusted advisor to King Arthur after spurning Merlin's magical tricks, Hank introduces late 19th century technology and social structure in order to solve problems he witnesses in medieval England, including slavery, lack of sanitation, overbearance of the Catholic church, and popular superstition.
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.