And just for a giggle…. Kermit on Strombo!
And just for a giggle…. Kermit on Strombo!
And just for a giggle…. Kermit on Strombo!
I thought I would share some of the video work available online from some of the other Puppet Intensive participants. One night we had a bit of a video show and tell/ heckling night, looking at video work from anyone who brought work to share. These are just a few.
Maybe I’ll start with a clip by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop– this is the music video to Feist’s Honey Honey.
Brian Fidler’s Ramshackle Theatre, with a trailer for their Sci-Fi Double Feature.
And finally, a short video by Shelby Lyn Lowe.
There is quite the contrast among all the work- I enjoyed that everyone came from such different backgrounds. Some ideas of performance, such as Rob’s visual poetry, are such an interesting contrast to my idea of performance, such as my work, A Bacteriophage Dissection, below.
(Ok, I’ll shut up about Puppet Camp now. Maybe.)
– Photo of the Raven Girls’ “Epilogue” – Photo by Meghan Krauss. –
So I’ve been home a few days now, coming down from one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There’s only been a handful of times in my life I’ve felt like that – I felt like I did graduating from ACAD. Or at my opening at the AGC. Exhilarated, but then, the come-down. It felt like we’d been together for so much longer than two weeks, getting to know each other, working together, having a hell of an adventure, hitting the wall and climbing over, and now, I feel a little lonely, missing all my new friends.
I don’t have a new placement at work yet, but it’s just as well- my achilles heel is acting up again. I’ve been trying to take it easy and let it rest, but I feel like I’ve got a lot of work to do in the studio yet too. Instead of hobbling around too much, I’ve been tying up loose ends for projects ending and coming up, and working on some details of things, but I’ve got some ideas and really want to jump into making some more complicated things. I do need to take it easy, though, and be as ready as I can for when I’m needed back.
Not only did I learn a lot about the collaborative process, but I’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks about individual creative processes, by talking to people and by watching people work. Sara Tilley has a particularly interesting writing process, at least for the book she is currently working on. She uses masks to channel the essence of her characters, to catch their personalities and writing styles. (See the Calgary Herald article about it.) I went to her artist talk the other night, and it was mesmerizing. Another artist’s intense concentration, dedication and sense of play astounded me. I remember an interesting conversation about the definitions of “work” and “play” and how they can overlap, even in the same project. There were a few artists who have been doing these things professionally for some time, and a few pretty new at it. I was continually astonished by all the talent around me, and while it did make me doubt myself for a few minutes, I remembered that what I do is interesting and is valuable, and is different, and that we all feel that way sometimes. I decided that instead of feeling even the slightest bit intimidated, I would jump right in and learn as much as I could, anywhere I could.
The other particularly valuable thing for me is the start I made on getting my brain to be quiet. Normally, my brain is constantly nattering away, talking, talking, talking. It’s probably 90% of the reason I have troubles sleeping, because my brain just won’t shut up. Slowly, through the morning yoga/warm up and Suzuki exercises, I was able to get my brain to be quieter, focusing on letting my body think/exist on it’s own. I had varying degrees of success at this, of course, but I see some incredible value in it, and want to continue to work on this, as it is so powerful. I think this was also why Suzuki was also my favourite part of the day (which is funny, I would have thought it would be Open Studio)- I was open to trying something completely new, which I had very little exposure to, and it really allowed me to connect to both myself and my group members through our bodies and chi energy. That work (and all the singing) might also explain why we all felt so close by the end of the program.
I’m having a bit of a tough time letting this wonderful experience go, but it’s really time to take what I can from it and move forward. Time to get back to work, remember the highlights, let go and move forward. Easier said than done.
– Dress Rehearsal – Statues Excercise, with masks – That’s me on the far right. –
Things got a little crazy in the last few days of the Puppet Intensive- finishing everything up, running spacing and dress rehearsals, cleaning up, and the wind up party. I don’t have very many photos from this part of the experience- I was too busy participating. 🙂
For the final day, we started with our usual yoga-style warm up and massages, but no Suzuki. Breaking for lunch early, we went into the theatre to do our spacing rehearsal. The spacing rehearsal is to decide what needs to go where before the show, and who will help with setting up what, so that the show runs as smoothly as possible. There was some time where we were waiting for Pete to finish what he needed to take care of with the tech people, and everyone decided to take a nap. (Funny, I remember a similar picture from Katimavik, six or seven of us sleeping in the Katima-van.)
After the spacing rehearsal, we took a bit of a break, to get into our black clothes, and get something to eat. We re-set everything to where it should be, and ran the dress rehearsal, complete with all of the lighting and sound cues, black out and brown outs (to change the scene).
After a few Suzuki exercise demonstrations, our projects were up. My group, the Raven Girls, went first, with our short show about a baby who realizes it is actually a raven and flies away from it’s mother to join it’s raven people. A few more wonderful plays later (where we all had specific responsibilities to help with scene changes), we did our Epilogue, a short 3 second scene of the ravens eating the human mother. Then, one final show, Adeline, a funny little girl with a wonderful sense of adventure. To end the show, we did one of our favourite (self-indulgent) exercises- our Braveheart killing scene.
– Nose man puppet in progress. –
After all of the excitement of the show, we still had some work to do- cleaning our stuff out of the theatre and cleaning up the mess of open studio. I had picked most of my tools and materials up the day before, which was really smart. I traded a few of the puppet faces I had made with some of the other artists, so now I have a few faces to play with on my own. We cleaned and vaccuumed the studio, and then did all of our wind up activities, including our final games tournaments (Four Square, Rock Paper Scissors, and Pass the Woody), and gave a couple things the group had made to Pete and Juanita – “Ester’s Squirrel” and a little “Juaneedlefelted” heart.
We drank, and we danced traditional Newfoundland dances, as well as a few others, played some crazy games, more four square and a few we made up, and as the group got smaller and smaller, we said goodbye. Tougher and tougher to say goodbye. The next morning, getting up by myself, packing, and going to find some breakfast before driving home, I could almost hear the whispers of a puppet camp song…. “Sin jen jen jen…. ungame tanda zo….”
It’s hard to believe it was only two weeks, it felt like 3 months in some ways and two days in others, and I made some wonderful new friends. Whether they knew it or not, they pushed me in ways I would never have been able to push myself, and I think I won’t fully understand the impact of this experience until much farther down the line. We hit the wall, and climbed right up on over, and what a journey it was!
I will always remember the wave Caleb gave me as I was pulling out of the parking lot- a puppet camp theme turned joke, a long dramatic, reaching wave, which lasted (I’m sure) until I was long out of sight.
Goodbye for now, puppet friends! Happy journeys, and all the best!
– From our morning Suzuki class: Mask work, including “Slow Ten” and “Statues” –
– From our morning Suzuki class: “Chako Hachi” –
– From our morning Suzuki class: “The Station” –
– Afternoon Articulation Lab –
…And I still didn’t take a photo of the birds.
Tomorrow is lighting cues and rehearsal day, and then Friday is the presentation, and then we’re done. Already getting a little sad to be leaving.
– A group shot from the first run though yesterday, too bad you can’t see Caleb’s face. –
– Listening to feedback. –
– Rowan and Pete playing music at the party. (I don’t have a Sparkle Pants photo, or I might have posted that instead. ) –
Today was our day off. I did laundry, went into town to go to the thrift store, had a lovely little nap, and went off to the studio to work on the raven choir, even though it was our day off. There were actually quite a few people there, building crazy things.
Here’s some progress shots of the ravens:
– Paper Mache raven heads –
– A bad photo of a paper mache raven head with body. –
– Ravens painted black –
– Raven head –
And then today, added some black and white and silver, and some texture with feathers, and a great little fabric scarf I got from the thrift shop.
– Excuse the awkward studio shot- I had just painted the puppets handle, and so couldn’t hold it up for a good photo. –
– The Puppet Crew! –
So it’s been a couple of days. We’ve been working pretty hard, and then playing pretty hard. Yesterday after our morning of Suzuki and an afternoon of making, we did our first run throughs for the whole group. They were magical. Interesting, well developed stories and characters, and I am just amazed at the talent of this group. After the critique (God, I didn’t realize how much I missed that!), we let loose a bit, and had a studio party…. Four Square, of course!
I figured out the mechanism for the birds yesterday, 6 ravens, the Raven Choir. I still have quite a bit of work to do on them, but they’re coming along. The other girls in the group are building really interesting puppets as well, and we have a wonderful tree that Sydney has made.
I am a little sad to realize that with today being our day off, and Thursday and Friday being rehearsal/ presentation days, we only have one regular day left. It’s amazing how connected I feel to the puppet crew, even though I haven’t known any of them longer than 2 weeks. It’s too bad that in just a few days, we’ll all be going on our separate ways again.
Just a reminder, if you’re interested, and in the Banff area friday night, our Presentation is Friday at 7, in the Martha Greenham Theatre. And it’s free.
– Studio shot. –
My achilles heel was really bothering me yesterday, and again today, but it’s not as bad as it was. I’ve been trying to take it easy a bit on some of the exercises, but still participate. I’ve been icing it, and enjoying the hot tub, which helps.
We’re working away on our group projects, making puppets and things, and also trying a couple of run throughs of the basic premise of it. Pete has given us some feedback, and we have a lot to work on yet, but I feel like we’ve got a solid handle on it, and a good start on building. I am making a choir of ravens. Today I did some more paper-mache-ing of the paper and tape forms, and gesso’d them. I didn’t take my camera to open studio, so I have no photos – maybe tomorrow.
In Suzuki, we are starting to combine exercises, the marching square into statues, into shako hachi. These descriptions will probably only make sense to those in the program with me. Every day it seems I find just a little bit more focus, just a little bit more connection to chi, although this morning, there were a few moments when there was more than most. It is a good challenge for me to be open to this and these ideas, as they are not generally something that I’ve really explored in my regular life.
Tomorrow, we will not do Suzuki, which has become my favourite part of the day. It’s funny, I thought Open Studio (building things) would be my favourite part of the day. It is definitely where I am most comfortable, but Suzuki is really about connecting as a group and being in touch with your chi, and I find that really challenging and interesting.
Anyway, going to relax a bit, ice my heel, and go to sleep. These are long, but wonderful days.
Highlights from Open Studio tonight:
– Stephanie and Mika –
– Kristin making some tiny scenery. –
– Laura making a puppet hand. –
– Kat playing around with #8. –
– Stephanie and Mika –
– Rob cleaning out his finished face mold. –
– Will, a frequent visitor to the Puppet Intensive, talking with Elizabeth. –
– Rob’s intense concentration. –
– Mika made a puppet skirt. –
– Naomi and her needle felted devil head –
– Kris and Esther discussing technique. –
– Rob, Rowan and Ken listening to Juanita’s needle felting lesson. –
– Needle felting lessons! –
– Elizabeth and Kris playing with some shadow puppets on a projector. –
– Elizabeth manipulating shadow puppets. –
– Ianna doing some sewing. –
– This is our lovely studio pretty close to the beginning…. I will post another photo closer to the end. –
Much more energy today – better sleep last night – must have been really really tired.
So, we’re starting to get into a rhythm. Get up, breakfast, warm up and not-Suzuki (focusing on identifying as a group and an individual in a group, sharing our energies, and getting out of our brains and into our bodies), lunch, games (to get into after lunch, including 4 square, and our Rock Paper Scissors competition, to collect points for the grand prize at the end of the residency). In the afternoon, we started on our “Presentation” projects, with our groups. The 5 groups of 5 will each have about a 10 minute show.
We also started “Articulation Lab” today, which is essentially animating things. This is the part of the residency that scares me the most – I am more than happy making stuff, and am getting used to and starting to really enjoy some of the physical stuff, but playing with things, making them move and take on personalities intimidates me. In today’s exercise, we made super quick puppets out of an article of clothing we had brought along. In small groups, we came up with a short storyline, starting with the three puppets and combining them together to make them into something else. There were some great little stories going on today, and some magical little puppets, made out of sweaters, socks, and even underpants.
– Ally and Jenna working on their clay faces. –
– Laura, my roommate, working on her clay face. And making her own face. –
Open Studio (where we make things): Tonight we made puppet faces out of clay, which we will mold with plaster and cast with flexible slip. Flexible slip is a flexible, clay-like material that can be cast in a really thin layer, keeping a puppet really light, which is important. The faces are all completely unique, and really expressive. I made a guy who is all nose. I noticed afterwards that I seem to have a sort of booger thing going on.
It was also nice to realize that, just like I feel inexperienced and somewhat insecure, so do other people. There were a few conversations today about that, in various aspects of what we’ve been doing. I suppose it’s nice and a really good thing that we all have different skills and interests- it’s what keeps things unpredictable and interesting.
Also of note: Yesterday, we did an exercise: To explore two words, and come up with ten tableaus, with our 5 group members and a prop. They were beautiful, and hilarious, and with some refinement, could have even stood as a show on their own. Our two words were Explore, and Limitation, within which we found quite a bit of overlap. Our prop was an umbrella, which we found very laden with meaning, but yet versatile enough to be used as some different items.
Tomorrow is party night, as Wednesday will be our well deserved day off. People are planning to do some hiking, go to the hot springs, etc, and there was even talk of tobogganing. I’ve been really enjoying this so far, but I really could use a little time off… “Intensive” is an understatement.
No post today, way too tired. Tomorrow. Except this:
Sin jen jen jen, un ga may tan da zo Sin jen jen jen, un ga may tan da zo Un ga may tan da zo, un ga may tan da zo, un ga may tan da zo, un ga may tan da zo. Sin jen jen jen, un ga may tan da zo Sin jen jen jen, un ga may tan da zo Un ga may tan da zo, un ga may tan da zo, un ga may tan da zo, un ga may tan da zo.
– This is our wall of puppets to play with- there’s probably… at least 75 or so puppets hanging around, although not all of them are in this picture. I don’t know if you can see them, but wayyyy in the back are two Morphoids, Gynoecium and Pteropod…. wayyy in the back. –
Um…. I’ll maybe keep it short and sweet. Busy, busy, busy days, seems like there’s not even enough time to take a few photos.
The structure of the day followed much like yesterday- first thing warm up, ‘not-Suzuki’ exercises in the morning, and we played some games in the afternoon, including “Body Count,” one of the made up games from yesterday which was quite fun and surprisingly strategic (creating and breaking alliances, etc). We spent more time in the making studio today, however, doing two activities- making a ‘larval lump’ out of fabric (surprisingly similar to what I’ve done with making the Morphoids), and resuming our pairs from yesterday to make simple puppets out of paper and tape. Tomorrow, we will find out what we’ll be doing more with the Lumps, and showing our Taper and Pape puppers.
– Sara and the orifice picker puppet, whom Sara and I made. –
I am paired with Sara Tilley, a writer and performer who runs a theatre company in St. John’s. (Turns out, she’s been in Calgary recently, we know some of the same people.) We have made this aggressive, ghouly, rude puppet, who has a long pointy finger and many orifices in which to poke it, if he so chooses. That sounds horrible, I wish I had a photo to explain better…. maybe tomorrow. [Photo added.] He is overly aggressive, and has a bit of an attitude that makes you quiver at the end of his sharp, pointy finger.
The other lovely thing about this puppet (if he worked properly- mechanism idea is good, but should be made out of something other than paper and tape), is that he can change his form. He is, I would say, averagely proportioned, until he extends himself, then he becomes taller, larger, in an effort to be more intimidating. If we could get the mechanism to work, it would be lovely.
Anyway, it’s 11:30, off to bed after another long (but fabulous!) day!