Posts

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Ten

Image
The foundation course has ended but Suzie's pursuit into puppetry is far from over...Stepping out of the shadows: Shadow Puppetry!  For our last session on this course we examined what might have been, for many of us, our first foray into puppetry – whether this was on a bedroom wall in the dimming lamplight or against the canvas of a tent with a torch whilst camping – we all have childhood memories of making shadow play. Shadow puppetry is an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment, an old tradition with a long history especially in Southeast Asia where it is often revered as art! Although I think my shadow puppetry has a little way to go before it could be described as such...!
All that's required is an object, a light source and some kind of screen. We were to make the objects, the light source was supplied by a mobile phone or a projector and there were two screens set up – one made from two tables put together and turned on their side with a sheet across the table to…

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Nine

Image
Do puppets dream?Suzie uses gaffer tape and cardboard to find out...
Puppet Making: Movement Today we were given the task of making some simple puppets - I say 'simple'... Although the puppets were made from simple materials (cardboard and gaffer tape) they were actually rather complex in the way that they moved. We made them specifically with movement in mind; how would the joints - the knees, the elbows, the shoulders - be constructed so as to move in a natural and realistic way?!
Oli (Oliver Smart, our instructor) showed us the intricate way in which a few puppets worked, and then, under his careful consultation, we started constructing our own.





Such Stuff as Puppets Are Made On As mentioned above, we used very sophisticated materials - cardboard and gaffer tape! But I'm also referencing a Prospero quote from The Tempest in the subheading there - 

We are such stuff / As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.. 

This is said by the magician Prospero when…

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Eight

Image
Playing Pinocchio! - Week Eight... by Suzanne Kendall
Turning JapaneseToday we'll be exploring 'Bunraku' said Oli. I beg your pardon said I! 

'Bunraku', or more correctly - 文楽 - is a form of traditional Japanese puppet theatre created at the beginning of the 17th century. For more information, here's a Wikipedia link: Traditional Japanese puppet theatre. The significant elements that really came into play in the class were the style of the puppets themselves and the ensemble nature of this type of theatre. The photos below give you an example:


Although Banraku puppets are ordinarily carved in wood, we used cloth puppets - rag dolls essentially. Like their wooden counterparts they have a movable head and joints in the arms, legs, hands and feet to manipulate.

It's alive!Each puppet requires 3 operators: one on the head and an arm, another on the lower torso and the other arm, and finally one on the feet. The person operating the head is the lead puppeteer as the…

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Seven

Image
Playing Pinocchio! - Week Seven... by Suzanne KendallThis week Maud met Ronnie Le Drew!



It was time to bring our muppets out of the bag again and I was pleased to see Maud after my brief affair with bin bags and marionettes over the past couple of weeks! I think she was pleased to see me too, mind you she always has the same smiling eyes and facial expression! However, this week she'd have some more life breathed into her and I'd get to see how much more dynamic she could be...

Ronnie Le Drew (see Week Two) went around the room and briefly tried out everyone's muppets. He demonstrated how the look of the muppet could inform their voice and the way they moved - their character. He showed us various ways of 'walking'. He also taught us how to operate the muppet's mouth when it's 'speaking' - how to lip sync the muppet with our voices - we practiced this by counting. When we got to number 'sev-en' the muppet opens and closes its mouth twice becau…

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Six

Image
Playing Pinocchio! - Week Six... by Suzanne Kendall
Don't tell Maud (the muppet I made 3 weeks ago)... but today's class made her look a little unsophisticated! Hard to believe I know! And that is because we worked with marionettes - defined as puppets on strings. Rather complex little creatures..


The session was taken by Tinka Slavicek - a puppeteer and puppet maker. For more info about Tinka and classes she runs at Little Angel Theatre, see: http://bit.ly/2stfOCh And she brought some of her friends along too...








After a demonstration on how some of the marionettes worked, we were lucky enough to spend an hour or so playing with them ourselves.

I dashed straight to the more-or-less life-size marionette of the little girl, seen here in the top picture. Talk about jumping into the deep-end! She had a lot of strings and was quite complicated to use as well as being very heavy! My right arm was killing me after only a few minutes of trying to operate her. Clearly strength and stamina…

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Five

Image
Playing Pinocchio! - Week Five... by Suzanne Kendall

It was time to bin convention and let our imaginations out of the bag today. We re-visited some puppetry basics using - bin bags! You may remember my mentioning an exercise involving bin bags in week one - designed to make us appreciate the potential for life in ordinary objects and to stimulate our imaginations - to see a bin bag as something unique; to look beyond its conventional usage.

Today we lay our bags out on the floor and simply sat with them for a while. We watched them when they were still and lifeless. And then we witnessed them come to life when we touched them - we watched them respond - they crinkled and wrinkled and moved. We then made a little 'hood' out of the bags by pinching a portion of the bag between our fingers. We suddenly had something that resembled a little 'creature' to play with.
We experimented with the different ways our bin bag 'creatures' could move - slowly, quickly, along th…

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Four

Image
Playing Pinocchio! - Week Four... by Suzanne KendallMore muppet making today! It was hard to believe that 'Maud' could be improved upon - she was already a real beauty! For a more thorough introduction to Maud, see last week's blog post... but once a bag of felt scraps was introduced to the room, opened and buried into, I began to get some ideas...!

I gave her eyes a flash of colour - a lovely, bright and seductive green. I gave her rosy cheeks and coloured in her lips so that she had more of a pout. Finally, I stuck on some eyebrows. Predictably, I accidentally stuck an eyebrow onto myself first - it attached itself to me with fresh, hot glue from the glue gun - ow! Those savage days in design and technology at school all came flooding back... a bit of a comedy act ensued with my jumping up and down and running round the room trying to remove the eyebrow from my blistering thumb with my fingers, only then of course to burn my fingers in the process! Needless to say I spent…