Sunday, December 5, 2010

From the Long Center to the Off Center

This month, the PIP will be making an appearance at the Off Center (home to the Rude Mechs) in Shrewd Productions "A Feast of Fools." The show is a fundraiser for the Shrewd Production company and will feature 12 acts, each giving tribute to one of the 12 days of Christmas. The PIP has the honor to present for the Eighth Day.

Feast of Fools
Merriment & Misrule

Date: December 16-18, Thursdays – Saturday at 8pm; Doors open at 7pm
NOTE: a portion of all proceeds will be donated to "HAND" (Helping the Aging, Needy and Disabled).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trouble Puppet "Object Theater" Workshop

I am super happy to be a part of this 6 week workshop... Here are the deets:

Trouble Puppet kicks off its Working Artist Workshop Series, a six-session workshop series conducted by artist with specializations in the field of puppetry and related arts. The first workshop will be on Object Theater, facilitated by Caroline Reck, who directed FupDuck as the Visiting Guest Artist this year for Trouble Puppet.

The workshop will have a dual focus on manipulation technique and the of storytelling with objects, with particular attention paid to design choices and appropriate materials. Learn manipulation techniques, using everyday objects as your puppets, and use those objects as a medium for storytelling.

Useful for actors expanding their technique repertoire, designers looking for a new angle on materials, and theater-makers interested in storytelling technique. The workshop will culminate in a showing of short works.

Caroline Reck is a graduate of the Lecoq School of Physical Theatre in Paris, France and has an MFA in Theatre from Towson University’s program for self-producing theatre artists. A performer/ director and frequent collaborator on devised work, her background is in mime, object theatre and puppetry. She worked for two years in Europe with the Paris-based Sous Un Otre Angle, performing an object theatre version of The Musicians of Bremen, which won accolades at the Avignon Festival in France. Her company, Glass Half Full, is currently touring The FupDuck Project, a puppet show with live music, whiskey, and a duck; as well as The Orchid Flotilla, a solo puppetry and gestural performance about ecological disaster and the value of stuff.

Puppets in the Long Center for Performing Arts

The Puppet Improv Project was asked to perform as part of the entertainment at this years B. Iden Payne Awards. The awards are a program of The Greater Austin Creative Alliance, and are awarded annually to recognize outstanding contributions to the Austin theatre community.

The PIP presented some improvisational singing with members from, "Crack! The Improvised Puppet Musical". The cast included Emily Breedlove, Peter Rodgers, Pat Daniel and Sara Farr who all performed with awards host, Les McGehee. We were the last performers of the show and improvised a "Madrigal" style song using quotes from the awards recipiants acceptance speeches. It was well recieved, and we where honored to be a part of the ceremony.

Atlanta, GA & The Center For Puppetry Arts

I meant to post this sooner, but while visiting Atlanta GA for the Black Box Improv Comedy Festival with Get Up (back in September) I got to take myself to the Center for Puppetry Arts

There I got to walk around their museum and read about the history of puppets from around the world. There was a great video made by the Henson Foundation that was Henson having a dialogue with several top puppet masters from different fields of puppetry. There was also a bunch of puppets there on loan, including Big Bird, Dr Teeth, and the Swedish Chef! It was fun to get to look at these puppets up close and read about their history. They also had a section on the NEW form of puppetry -- Motion Graphics and Performance puppetry!!! This is in perfect sync with my own goals for puppetry. Since I work and train others in computer graphics every day, and I have a strong and growing love of puppets, this seems like a natural evolution for where the PIP should move next. However, the technology is still a bit pricey, so it is a FUTURE goal. And though I felt like the performance animation display didn't tell me anything new, I was glad to see them sharing some of the magic behind "Sid the Science Kid". And I felt privileged to have met the Henson puppeteer that operates Sid's head a year ago on my West Coast Puppet Improv Tour (when I went to see him in Puppet Up!).

While at the Center, I got to see a very fun show by Leslie Carrara-Rudolph -- aka "Abby Cadabby" on Sesame Street. Her show celebrated the creative spirit and encouraged kids to make up their own characters. The star of the show was probably LOLLIE! who was very entertaining, with a TINY voice and sugar-induced energy level that was like rocket fuel to the kids in the audience. But there were a ton of fun characters in the show. I hung out after to get a chance to talk, but she was worn out, and had to do several other shows that day, then go host a PUPPET SLAM. So we met, said hello, but that was it. Perhaps we'll get to visit another day.
Leslie is now a part of the Henson Alternative show in NYC that grew out of "Puppet Up" which I saw last year in LA. The new show uses more video (Hmmm!) and I hope to get to go see it some day.

"Stuffed and Unstrung" --

Friday, June 4, 2010

Puppet Hunt

It seems to me that lots MORE ppl are interested in puppetry these days... or it could be that my brain is just open to puppets. In either case, I've been approached by a couple of ppl regarding where can they GET puppets.

There are plenty of puppets out there for purchase. Are you looking for a "Muppet" style made of foam and fleece, operated by hand (mouth) and rod (arms)? That's what most ppl think of when they think of "puppets. But the older type of hand puppet is a "Punch & Judy" type of puppet -- like the ones seen on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood -- where your fingers operate the arms and head (no mouth movement). There is also the "sock" style puppets -- another kind of hand puppet where your hand moves the mouth

I make my puppets bc buying them can be expensive. Puppets are labor intensive and the demand for puppets is small. There are plenty of cool stuffed-animal type puppets, too. I'd also recommend looking in kids stores, but you can find these online, too.

Also, you get what you pay for. If you are looking for a puppet to do shows with, you probably want the puppet to be easy to hang onto and manipulate. Mass produced puppets may be cheaper, but they may also not give you the range of motion you want. The joints can be overstuffed and/or stiff, which means you have to tense your muscles to make it move. This kind of repetitive stress on your own joints can lead to injuries. I've noticed that some mass produced puppets you can buy for cheap are hard to hold, have joints that are difficult to move, break easily and are HEAVY. A 3 min scene is a long time if you're holding something out away from your body. Professional puppets are easy to hold, easy to manipulate, durable, and lightweight so that you can hold them for extended periods of time.

Here are some places to find puppets online:

* FAO Schwartz Whatnots! -- Disney-Muppets have teamed with FAO to give you Whatnots! Muppet Extras you can customize and buy for $129.99
* Swazzle
* Russ Walko -- Russ sells this basic rodded arm, flexible rubber palate puppet for $200.
* Furry Puppet Studio
* Thistledown Puppets
* Rick Lyon
* Craigslist
* Ebay
* Puppet Project -- make your own puppet!!

Hope this helps.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sesame Street Muppet Songs






Monday, May 17, 2010

Henson Quotes

  • Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.
  • Listening is the first step and the last step.
  • The personalities of the Muppet characters are really quite innocent and everyone, in some way or another, seems to be able to relate to this innocence.
  • If you're doing a large, complicated character with radio controls, it might take a number of people several months to make it and if you're talking about a quick little hand puppet, it could be made in 2 days, so there's enormous range there, and no real easy generalities.
  • The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.
  • I know I drive some people crazy with what seems like ridiculous optimism, but it has always worked for me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hey Puppet Lovers!

"CRACK! The Improvised Puppet Musical" has a 6 show run with Gnap! Theater Projects at SVT this summer -- first 3 weekends in August, Fri/Sat @ 8pm. This is an open casting call notice for that run. 

When: 2pm - 4pm on Sunday, May 16th 
Where: SVT -- during the Merlin Works Mixer

Call backs will be the following Sunday, 2pm - 4pm on May 23rd. You can find a description of Crack! (2009) in the SHOWS section on my PIP website.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stuffed & Unstrung

The Henson studios have launched a their first NYC show under the "Henson Alternative" branch -- "Stuffed & Unstrung" -- a television-tech boosted version of "Puppet Up!" created by Patrick Bristow & Brian Henson.
STUFFED AND UNSTRUNG is a wild new puppet improv performance from Henson Alternative, The Jim Henson Company's label for content created exclusively for adults. This LIVE comedy features the world-renowned Henson puppeteers performing in spontaneous, irreverent, unscripted style. Created by award-winning director, producer, writer and performer Brian Henson and actor and improvisational guru Patrick Bristow, STUFFED AND UNSTRUNG is actually “two shows in one” -- as the hilarious puppetry is projected on large screens flanking the stage while simultanously, the astounding talents of puppeteers are on display below. It's never the same show twice as the skilled art of puppetry and comedic intelligent nonsense collide in this uproarious multimedia romp packed with twisted sketches, songs and storylines! ... Union Square Theater -- 100 East 17th Street, New York, NY  10003

If you are in New York, I highly recommend this show! 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Puppets in Austin & the O'Neil Puppetry Conference

Met an actor/puppeteer the other night - Caroline Reck. She is friends with Connor Hopkins, of Trouble Puppet Theater. A recent graduate of the Towson University MFA Theater program, Caroline is currently working on a new puppet show -- "Fup Duck" to be performed at SVT March 17th-20th. The White Ghost Shivers band will be in the show, too!  Very exciting!
A graduate of the Lecoq School of Physical Theatre in Paris, France. She served as Artistic Director and host of “Cabaret Le Cochard,” a musical revue on a barge on the River Seine in Paris. An actor/ director and frequent collaborator on devised work, her background is in mime, object theatre and puppetry. Her international collaborators include the Paris-based Sous Un Otre Angle, Mangiare Theatre Company in Sligo, Ireland and RedStarDogFish in Sydney, Australia. Since returning to the States in 2006, her New York productions include Nutmeat, a Burlesque Fairytale (NYC Fringe) and several productions for Red Fern Theatre at the 78th Street Theatre Lab.

When we were chatting, Caroline reminded me of this festival...

O'Neil Puppetry Conference

I would love to go to this... someday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010 PIP Workshops!

After a year dedicated to puppet improv study, research, travel and performance, Sara Farr is bursting with gathered industry skills and trade secrets. And one of the best things she learned about last year was the seemingly ironic generous nature of puppeteers. Making a living off their ingenuity, puppeteers who should be reclusive and stingy with their trade secrets, are in fact VERY generous and willing to share their magic tricks!
In the same vein, Sara is ready to share FOR FREE what she has worked hard to learn. But a years worth of info won't fit into just one workshop. So instead, Sara has parceled the sweet stuff into 3 shiny workshops, each with its own focus!

Puppet Mechanics and Manipulation

Learn how to bring LIFE to inanimate objects and make ppl CARE about your CHARACTERS. Using scripts, games and a variety of puppet types & set pieces, students will explore and play with the basics of puppet manipulation -- eye contact, breath, staging, etc.
PREREQ: none
TEACHER: Sara Farr
REQUIRED SUPPLIES: none -- puppets will be provided
DATE: 12-3pm Sun. 2/28
LOCATION: At the Studio Theater at Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Road
RSVP to Sara to save your spot in class

Puppet Building

Joined by Avimaan Syam, Sara will share with students the tools and techniques used by professional puppet builders to create your own cast of unique puppet characters. Sara will be sharing the skills and techniques she learned for making felt & foam, muppet-style puppets, and Avimaan will be sharing the ancient art of Paper Mache puppets (a la "Punch & Judy"). The paper mache' puppets require a 2 day building process with dry time, so we will cover both techniques over the course of two 3 hour workshops
PREREQ: none
TEACHER: Sara Farr and Avimaan Syam
REQUIRED SUPPLIES: Tools provided, supplies not. A list of recommended supplies will be sent upon registration.
DATE: 12-3pm Sat 3/27 & Sun 3/28
LOCATION: Sara Farr's house
RSVP to Sara to save your spot in class

Improv With Puppets

Learning to improvise outside your body (and into the body of a puppet) can be both liberating and eye-opening. In this 2 hour workshop, we get into some improv games & scenes to explore how improvising with puppets can get you closer to PLAY and out of your head. A fun class to take, whether you're looking to expand your improv tool-belt with puppets, or just looking for a fun afternoon with puppets.

PREREQ: Some beginning level improv training and puppet manipulation experience
TEACHER: Sara Farr
REQUIRED SUPPLIES: none -- you are welcome to bring your own puppets, but puppets will also be provided.
DATE: 7-10pm Wed 4/14
LOCATION: At the Studio Theater at Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Road
RSVP to Sara to save your spot in class