Posts Tagged ‘Puppetry’
Things I’ve said, or friends have said at work lately.
- Where did I put my lady belly?
- Catch the fish eyes!
- How many bird kebabs do you want?
- I think the crocodile is going to eat us alive
- My skull is supposed to arrive tomorrow.
- RiteAid is the mother-lode of Emilys
- I’ve lost my arm
- Go ahead, put your finger inside. It’s really good. So snug and smooth.
- His rod isn’t stiff enough.
- The logical way to get vaseline off a Galumphus head seemed to be to take in the shower.
What it all means.
- We were making fish and I couldn’t find the pattern for the female fish’s belly.
- The eyes for the fish were made out of a lightweight plastic and were put outside to dry. A stiff breeze came along and the fish eyes went sailing.
- Birds puppets stacked on top of one another with a piece of steel running straight through them. Really. What else would you call it?
- The process of building a crocodile puppet was not going well.
- I ordered a dog skull for a dead dog I was building for a show.
- I needed a 42″ doll, which happened to be called Emily, that was available at the drugstore.
- Couldn’t find the puppets arm
- Checking the fit of a puppet sometimes makes one say unfortunate things.
- Really, this was too easy. We needed heavier gauge spring steel.
- This is part of a friend’s hilarious story about making puppets for a Seuss show.
Just to catch you up. The tentacles were cut, though not because of anything on our end. Meanwhile, I’ve missed a week in the shop, because of my cold. Day before yesterday, Emily dropped supplies off at our place so I could work from home. I had reached a point where I felt more or less okay as long as I wasn’t moving around and neither of us wanted to risk the transit or the chance that I might infect everyone in the shop.
I spent the last day or so working on the boat — I’ll upload pictures later — and went into the shop today for the first time in ages.
PuppetVision Blog pointed out this stunning video by Richard Teschner. There are a couple of things you need to understand before watching this short film. It was filmed in 1916, so it is very early cinema. It is also not stop-motion. Both of those things are cool. What is significant though is that Richard Teschner is credited with adapting Javanese rod puppetry for the western world. Before him, you saw marionettes and hand puppets but nothing else. His work was quite revolutionary. I’ve seen photos of his puppets for ages and have been captivated by the sheer artistry of them. This film is the first time I have ever seen them in motion. I would love to see a better print, because even in this the delicacy of movement is beautiful. Despite the lack of dialog, you can feel Joseph’s tenderness to Mary as fully as if he were delivering monologues. It is easy, oh so easy, to see why Teschner’s work changed everything for western puppetry.
So, I’m looking at the tentacles again and think that if we cut them down so that they are not quite as long and lose some of the width at the back that we’ve got a fair chance of getting them under the skirt.
I also just tried vacuum sealing them into a bag and hot damn they pack down small then. Plus no unpleasant shifting around. We just have to figure out how to extract them onstage if we go that route.
I tried the inflatable tentacle, just to see what would happen. I mocked it up out of 4mil plastic and a hairdryer so it’s a little lackluster. I think it’s a possible if we really can’t come up with any other way to fit the tentacles under that skirt, but we’ll have to go a lot higher tech. Plus, still have to deal with finding a way to diffuse the the El-wire.
Hello, learning curve, my old friend.
I have some video of the boat, but am a wee bit tired so I’m heading to bed since I don’t have any direct questions about it. I really do need guidance on the tentacles though.
Talk to you soon!
You guys are getting this on time-delay, because I’m using these posts to communicate with Emily DeCola, the designer, who is on a trip to China at the moment. So, once she reads and we catch up, I’ll post the pictures of the build.
Just because it is interesting, I’ll also share the commentary that we have going. Feel free to join in, just know that we are three days farther along in the process than you.
Monday, December 10th, 2007
We started the day at 10:00 today, shopping from home and organizing plans. Around eleven, Rob and I headed down to the shop and met up with Jane at noon. While Jane and I worked, Rob did the shopping for us. Gotta love husbands.
Here’re the fruits of our labor today.
So: Tonight. December 9th, 2007
8:00 pm at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (corner of 9th)
Voice 4 Vision Puppet Slam.
I’ll be performing Nails in Our Feet, a puppet monologue by one of Ray Harryhausen’s retired T-Rexes.
Well, my three lovely ladies are leaving home tomorrow. I’m shipping the Coraline puppets to Bill Shaffer at Subterranean Press. He in turn will send one to Neil Gaiman, one to Dave McKean and one to someone who pre-ordered the special edition of Coraline.
I wanted to make certain that I had good photos of the dolls, so I went over to Ellen Datlow’s this evening and let her do her camera magic. Behold.
Rob and I, despite invitations to spend the day with friends, are staying at home today. What am I thankful for? That the nation comes to a halt today, which gives me time and license to spend the day with my husband.
I also sent off an email to a man I’ve been meaning to thank for a while now. My college writing teacher, William Hallberg, had just had his first novel come out the semester I took a class with him. Much like my experience with puppetry, until meeting him it hadn’t occurred to me that publishing a novel was something that was attainable. Now, I haven’t spent the ensuing twenty years in desperate pursuit of getting a novel published — in fact I only really started writing seriously about five years ago — but the early lessons from Mr. Hallberg stuck with me. Among other things, that it is possible to write a novel and hold down another job.
So, besides spending time with Rob, I’m going to treat myself to a writing day today. Meanwhile, may I recommend that you pick up a copy of Rub of the Green, by William Hallberg?
Edited to add: Mr. Hallberg wrote back to say that he remembers me. Wonders never cease. He asked me to send him something I’d written, so I’ve sent him a link to For Solo Cello, op. 12.
We just finished the show and are tucked safely away in the hotel in Albany. It felt really good to be performing. I’ve missed it.
And it’s very nice to have nothing on my docket for the evening.
Today started with me sleeping through my alarm, though waking up in enough time to make the 8:15 train to Saratoga if I hurried. I ran out the door, struggling along with pounds of Shimmer magazines in my backpack, and came down to the steps of the subway station just as the train I needed was arriving. Whew.
And then, in a bonus stroke, when we got to 96th street, the express train magically appeared across the track. I hopped over and started breathing a little easier. I even got a seat.
Then the train stopped in the tunnel.
It crawled forward finally arriving at NY Penn Station at 8:07. Gah! I ran into the building, sweat pouring down under my coat, knowing that I wasn’t going to make it, but having to try. After all, Amtrak had sent an announcement to expect delays. Maybe it was late pulling in to Penn. Sure enough, I checked the board and it was still there. I grabbed my ticket, no line, and turned to the gate.
Which I couldn’t find. Oh, sure… there was a track 5 E, but it was only accessible by an escalator, which was going up. I needed to go down. A station attendant saw me and another man run to 5 E and look panicked. He shouted, “The stairwell behind you. Run! It might still be there.”
I ran. Top of the stairs. Glory be! The train was still there.
At the first landing, the doors shut. Halfway past that, the train pulled forward. I stopped and dropped my bag. The other man did the same thing. Almost in unison, we cursed.
I turned around, lugged my bag upstairs to exchange my ticket for the afternoon train.
That done, I walked back to the red line to go home. A line from the platform wound down into the main terminal. It wasn’t moving and from where I stood, I could see the crowd at the top, filling the platform. Someone said, “Train’s not running.”
“Any of them?”
“Not on this line. An ‘incident’.”
Groaning, I walked back to the other end of the station to take the C train home. As I waited, I watched six E trains come by and a couple of A’s but no C. Finally, an announcement said that they were running “slower than usual due to an earlier incident.”
What’s with all the incidents? After waiting for forty-five minutes, a C finally came, just as I was about to give up.
I got home about 10:30 and collapsed in bed.
Half an hour later, the phone rang. The production had run into a problem and wanted to know what they should do. With a sense of grim irony, I said, “Fortunately, I missed my train this morning. I’m still in town.”
So, I skipped the afternoon train, fixed the intestines and the dead dog and will go to World Fantasy tomorrow. Somewhere in all of this, I’m planning on sleeping more than half an hour.
Bizarre. I designed these puppets years ago and evidentally they are being used in a remount now. Willamette Week reviewed the production and had this to say about my work.
The puppets, designed by Mary Robinette Kowall [sic] ((Oddly, I only ran across this because, for the first time, I ran a search on a common misspelling of my name. The review was posted today.)) , are detailed, lifelike and sometimes capable of expressing quite nuanced emotions.