Monday, March 23, 2009

More Puppets!

The first 2 Wild Wild Puppet shows have gone great! We had a sold out crowd on opening weekend, which was a great way to kick off the run. Last week we had a repeat cast from the first week and were able to refine the show a bit. I also improved some of the props by gluing and color coding the puppet theater PVC skeleton. Unfortunately, it created a problem with the curtains being able to fit over them. Two steps forward, one step back.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Wild Wild Puppets" Begins!

Hey everyone! Wild Wild Puppets," our first improv puppet show, launches this weekend. And for the show, Gramps got a new outfit!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lost & Found Puppets

In researching puppets, I discovered Lunatique Fantastique... or rather, someone (several people, actually) heard what I was doing and told me about her. "Performance alchemist Liebe Wetzel and her ensemble release the sweet, sad, naive, and lustful beings inside "ordinary" objects." Check out their videos!

What a great idea! I mean, why be limited to "character" looking objects. Why not let an inanimate object be animated into life? Disney's "The Illusion of Life" book talks about how we as humans WANT to anthropomorphize everything. Some cultures believe EVERYTHING has a spirit... Animism. Which is why its interesting that this group is exploring how to bring life to "ordinary" objects.

I had hoped to go to No Shame this past Friday night and do some puppets, but I forgot my box of puppets. With no puppets, I thought BRIEFLY of doing something like this found-object puppetry. Then it reminded me of Shannon McCormick's "Ghost Hat, the Hat Ghost" and the "Tom Waits Borrowed CD" from earlier No Shame Theater shows. But then I felt like I needed something intelligent to say, and chickened out. However, I would love to do something with found-object puppetry in the future. It's funny, but Gnap Theater Projects is preparing a new show, "Lost & Found". Perhaps I can talk to Shannon about doing some kind of "preshow" puppet thing using found objects. Hm.

Instead, for No Shame, I went to Toy Joy and purchase a couple of "characters" that I had intended to have "dialogue" about evolution versus creationism (which was inspired by watching my friend, Dano, doing a similar thing at a party). Anyway, I arrived late and the show was already over. Timing is EVERYTHING. Good news is now I get to work on it a bit (1 month) before presenting it.

Now that No Shame is over (for 1 month), I'm really focusing on the Wild Wild Puppets show... which starts a week from tomorrow!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Illusion of Life

The PIP had a good puppet tech rehearsal on Sunday. We met with Connor Hopkins at the Trouble Puppet Theater space at SVT and talked about how to bring life to our puppet object. Highlights include:

A) Be conscious of puppets movement
- Be efficient with the puppet's movement... Talking is mostly small movement(thumb); use big moves (wrist-elbow-shoulder) for emphasis
- Let puppet look around and "see" environment
- Stand/hold puppet where you get the biggest range of motion
- Start movement with a "breath" (anticipation); accelerate into movement; stop with a POP
- Show, don’t tell -- nod for "yes", shake head for "no", head tilt for "whatever"
- Have the puppet look out at the audience often

- A to B: "Hey Doofus, I wanna to ask you a question"
- A to audience: "Can you tell me where the herd is?"
- A to B: "Hm?"
- B to A: "Oh, well."
- B to audience: "That's a good question, Sheriff. Now let me see. 'Do I know where the herd is?'
- A nods
- B to audience: Uh... (looks around)... hm... (shakes head)...Nope."
- B to A: "I give up. Where is it?" (looks around)
- A slow look to audience

B) Keep eyes & eye-line still... drop jaw with thumb

D) Everything you do, do it through the puppet

C) PUPPETRY is a physical art form and you will get tired!
- FIGHT the tendency to let the puppet go flat/dead
- Look at your puppet; helps keep the energy in your puppet; helps pull audience focus to puppet
- Strengthen your thumb muscles: When someone's talking to you, rest your hand on your hip, thumb out, then "puppet" your thumb to whatever that person is saying

E) Practice in a mirror
- You can use a video camera, but mirror is faster
- Have your puppet lip-sync to a song you know