Theatre and Puppetry

Today I met with my dear friend, Tom, to go over his set design ideas. I also gave him the props I made for his show.

The show is The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  I cannot believe I have not done this show already, but I have not.  With 250 shows (guesstimate) under my belt, there are not that many I haven’t been involved with at some point.  Of course, we have repeated several over the years.  Hard to find really great scripts that haven’t been done to death.

Honestly, there are not that many great shows that are cost effective to put on.  We’ve put on blockbuster-mega-shows, of course, but we rarely make back the money we put into them.  They are often sell-outs, but the costs involved are really mind-boggling.  Costumes, sets, special lighting, props, musicians, technical devices and special effects, anything computerized or motorized, stunts and all that involves, and, of course, the cost for the rights to put the show on in the first place.  It boggles the mind, how much it costs to put on a theatrical production of any quality.

While there, Tom and I talked about the summer camp his (I resigned last year after a debilitating health issue) theatre  organization is putting on this coming month.  I am, apparently, in charge of a puppet play the kids will be putting on.  This will involve making the puppets, as well as staging the show.  This will be a great thing for the kids to do.  They will create their own puppets and use them in the show.  Then they will have a great memento from the experience as well.

So, some of you are wondering about the puppets.  I have made several hand puppets, have created a marionette named Vogel, and plan to create a couple (Audrey Hepburn and Clark Gable are my personal favorites) who will dance together.  This is a very challenging project, which is why I depend upon my dear friend Bill.

Bill was a professional puppeteer in Chicago, with his own puppet theatre, for 35 years and has retired to this area.  He is a delight and has been teaching me the art of puppet making.

Which is an art, let me tell you!  I cannot believe the complexity of the process.  Here are some pictures of my sculpt of Vogel’s head:

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The sculpt of Vogel’s head, before he becomes a mold

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Vogel’s head as we create the lower mold

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Vogel, removed from mold and after he’s dried sufficiently, attaching the lower beak

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Vogel, complete. Head painted, body and legs attached, fully strung. Both were sold at Potlatch, the Puppetry Convention.

It was a thrill to see him come together!  I am addicted to puppetry and have been since we began this little journey.  I want to become an expert at this art form.  I really cannot wait until we begin working on these puppets again.

My next puppetry excursion, following the kids art camp, will be doing shadow puppets for our upcoming Halloween show, “Yikes!”  It is a show about a little girl, Candy Corn, who meets all kinds of interesting creatures on her adventure through the magical forest.  There are dancing Ghosts, talking and singing Crows, and the grand, Old Tree, Rosina the Witch, the Headless Horseman, dancing Skeletons and the Great Pumpkin.  We have a magical caldron that spits sparks, a flying-South-for-the-Winter Scarecrow-who flys apart instead, and all sorts of exciting and wonderful adventures for Candy, our little damsel in the forest.

Which reminds me of all the work I have left to do on the shadow puppets…

Well, back to work.  I am packing up some of the things I have been working on for delivery tomorrow.  Hope they are well received.

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