Tuesday, August 26, 2008

IMHO...A Success

The Rolling Regional Festival (RRF) is over. In all, I can’t say whether everyone would consider it a success or not. I suppose it wasn’t compared to a normal regional festival which is attended by more puppeteers. However, it was unquestionably successful in sharing puppetry with the public.
157 We learn
I am, however, often reminded that sharing puppetry with the public is not what a puppetry festival is for. Puppetry festivals are about puppeteers, for puppeteers and attended by puppeteers, or so they say. By ‘they’ I refer to the nay sayers of the RRF. They are right…I do remember those long ugly debates as to whether or not a puppetry performance at a festival should be open to the public at all or only for festival attendees. To these people I would say…without puppeteers, how can we have festivals at all? I do know that guilds should be doing what we did without the frame work of something like the RRF. That is true, but not easy for all locations. In fact, without the rolling RRF, two of the guilds would not have done anything. Both are small…one is ‘inactive’ due to less than 10 official members and the other is tottering on the brink of ‘inactive’. So there is something we must count as a resounding success…for you see, not only would nothing have been done in these locations with out the RRF, but also no regional festivals are even possible in those places due to low numbers of members. If in these locations, we can attract new interest in puppetry, then a regional festival there becomes possible.

168 - Piggy kids
Here are the facts as I know them: one Montana guild member attended Portland’s day; one Seattle guild member attended Montana’s day; Family members of Portland folks attended Seattle’s day and both Montana and Seattle guild members attended Victoria’s day. This may not sound so wonderful for a festival, but look at the pictures. Look at the children not only enjoying a puppet show, but also trying their hands at making and using puppets. Shall I add numbers to your opinion of the RRF? Try this: since the August Day of Puppetry in Seattle, there have been about 60 hits on the guild website which is 3 times more than normal. Most of those hits came on the week after the DoP. Plus, they were effort hits…people given a flier that had to type in the URL. That shows true interest, wouldn’t you agree?

069 Making puppets
Now I honestly don’t remember when it was I wanted to become a puppeteer. My earliest memory having to do with puppets was asking for them from Santa Claus. I have a vague memory of a puppet show at the Seattle Center involving a snow monster and a memory of a marionette princess I saw some where on a vacation. What if it was a Day of Puppetry some where that set me on my path? Who’s to say one of those happy little faces you see trying out my marionette dogs, won’t some day say the same thing?

111-family with Dogs

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The state of my workspace

Would you look at that? Now...before you say "What a mess!" let me assure you that this is a completely usable state. In fact, this table is shown to you mid-monkey. The monkey has presented a challenge to me as he is one of two rod puppets in the show. Now, rod puppets are usually not difficult...a head rod and two arm rods are usually all that is required. But our monkey needed not only the normal rods but foot rods/controls as well.
I could only think of one place I saw a full body rod puppet on a glove puppet stage and that was the Spring 2007 edition of The Puppetry Journal published by the Puppeteers of America. In this particular edition, a remembrance of Roger Mara also featured the complete design of his bobberhead rod puppets he designed for his production of Paul Bunyan. If you don't have this issue, I recommend that you send for a back issue.
The Bobberhead design was my inspiration for the string controlled legs of the monkey. See:
Monkey Legs

When he was all finished, I discovered a wonderful thing about this design...you can hold both the string bar and the arm bars in the same hand and when you pull back it makes his hands go back while his feet go forward in a monkey knuckle walk! It's so cool! I can hardly wait for you all to see it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Market Memories

This last Sunday, the puppeteers of Momotaro were out at the Day of Puppetry at the Pike Place Market. Everyone used their main puppet to interact with the passers-by. You see below my sister Mandy, who plays the Gold Oni who ended up getting a long lecture by this girl on how to be scary...
You need to work on "scary"
This young lady was not talking to Mandy at all. She addressed and lectured the Gold Oni. Mandy was a bit smiley, but the Gold Oni was taking notes the whole time saying "Ah I see" or "Really? Maybe I should try that!" So cute!
We also handed out a flier for our show at the Aki Matsuri. If you would like to print one and help us, here it is:

If you click on the picture, it should show you the complete 8.5" by 11" page. You can print it landscape, then cut it into three and PRESTO! you have three of our fliers to hand out. Thanks in advance!
In other news, Punch and Judy was presented by yours truly at the Market again this year and what do you see in this picture below?

She's a Brick House

Look carefully now...

Give up?

Okay, I'll tell you...it is in fact the very green bag full of Swazzles I was lamenting in my previous post! Frank found it not 24 hours after my post--in his car in fact. Three cheers for Frank! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of a Missing Swazzle

It’s a sorry and sad tale to tell but I can not find my favorite swazzle. I made it by hand like I did all my other swazzles and like all my other swazzles, its sound is unique. So unique, in fact, that I tie each one together with a different color string so I can tell them apart. This one was my first and most successful swazzle—it is tied with pink thread. I just made the others in case I swallowed or lost this one. The adventures of the Pink Swazzle are quite long and dazzling. Its debut was in ‘Puppets, Puppets, Puppets” a variety show I did with Thistle Theatre. Punch and Judy was a puppet show within a puppet show and was performed toward the end of the show—only the Judy and Baby Bits. It was for this show that I made the first spare swazzle and during one show I spat out the pink one (yes, sometimes I get so excited that I spit out swazzles) and replaced it with the spare to finish out the show. Jean Enticknap mentioned it afterwards and told me that the voice changed so much between swazzles that it was like a friend going away.

The pink swazzle finally performed at Greenwood after the previous Punch Professor moved on to Ballroom Dancing (no joke—hobbyists are like that). That year, my pink swazzle went missing during tear down on Sunday and I was very distressed. But metal detectors were ‘In’ that year and the moment the faire closed about a half a dozen metal hounds showed up on site to find all the gypsy bangles and such. I flagged one down and had him search my performance area. Luckily, he found it. I’d been eyeballing the ground for a fruitless hour and a half and was rather upset at loosing my pink swazzle friend so I was so grateful to him! The swazzle was a little dirty but I cleaned it up and it was no worse for it.

I also learned my lesson that setting my swazzle on my puppet box between shows was a really bad idea. To prevent future disasters such as that, I got a little green leather pouch (you aren’t supposed to keep swazzles in something air tight) which I wore at all times about my neck. I had my little pink buddy in there plus my green and orange spares. My blue spare I sewed into Punch himself in a little Chinese snap pouch—an idea I picked up from a Punch and Judy book.

But then, sometime this winter, I went and lost my green pouch! (see picture above) I tore the house upside down looking for it. But no luck…it was gone.

What could I do? I dug out the blue swazzle and undid it, retooled it, remade it over and over—trying to get it to sound right. I made a new one I wrapped in tan, which almost sounded good until 2 minutes before the show when it began to sound like he had a cold. I couldn’t fix it then…so Punch was sick that show. It’s all in how you bend it, plus the size of it and the tightness of the tape. I rewrapped it between shows and the second show was better but…in reality, my Punch has lost his squeak! It’s like another puppeteer taking over a previous puppeteer’s role. For example, the guy who’s doing Miss Piggy’s voice now is pretty good, but he’s no Frank Oz.