Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Puppeteer at the Consulate-General of Japan’s reception

I got dressed rather early for the Aki Matsuri reception at the residence of the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle. I’d already checked my outfit with Nora on Thursday before the last rehearsal started. She couldn’t go this year but she has gone several times. She gave me the idea that the little black dress was in good order and that wearing my michiyuki over it would be just fine.
127 - proof
They included both a map and written directions in with the invitations…and they were easy to follow. I left early too because the invitations had words like “things will begin promptly” and “6:30pm Sharp”. I ended up a whole ½ hour early. The house of the Consulate was old and beautiful with brick paths and Tudor windows and exterior. There were two greeters outside and just inside I found a table with a name badge all prepared for me. The room was downstairs and it had a door out to the back garden and lawn. Standing out there you seemed to be on the very pinnacle of Queen Anne, looking down on to the Seattle and the Puget Sound.
I felt a tad awkward on first arriving, because it seemed that there was no one I knew yet arrived. But Tom was there and he introduced me to the Senior Aide for Information and Cultural Affairs who was so kind enough as to give me his business card so I can tell you for a fact that I just reported exactly who he is. There were many introductions after that which put my Japanese to the test. I said ‘nihongo ga dekimasen’ because I learned to use dekimasu in Japanese class two years ago in March and I wanted to use it…sort of like Eliza Dolittle “The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain.” How sad my Japanese has become! I found myself understanding a lot more than being able to reply—which is frustrating. There were many speeches at first—which naturally were spoken twice, once in each language.
Then we all went outside to watch the sword demonstration. I remembered as I fished in my purse for my camera to turn my cell phone on silent mode…this was a good catch because I do have a Monday calendar event. I would’ve been mortified if it went off during the demo…it would’ve too. I took quite a few pictures of the demo, but I was only pleased with a few of them.
096 - determination
After the demo, we were invited back in to toast the Aki Matsuri and partake of the banquet of food. I tried a little of everything. It was rather good. I sat with several women in the chairs along the walls and enjoyed good conversation. I heard several reports of children enjoying the puppet shows and got several compliments on the large crowds we gathered and entertained. However, all the folks in attendance were organizers and they all were manning tables or running errands during the puppet shows. One person did say he stopped to watch briefly and several mentioned that their children enjoyed it. Everyone was in agreement that it was a really good location for it.
Towards the end of the evening, several of the younger crowd had a little fun helping each other get pictures of ourselves on our own cameras. That was nice. I think everyone was glad to get a proof-of-attendance picture. People seemed more relaxed then. Alcohol was being served and even if you don’t actually imbibe, does allow the atmosphere at a Japanese function to relax a little.
All in all, this puppeteer enjoyed herself and felt welcomed and appreciated by the event.

Speaking of appreciation, I would like to thank the following folks for attending the shows on Sunday:
• Christy and her friend
• Pat
• Diana
• Scott
• Frank
• Don
• Diana
042 - Frank Don and Diana
Mimibunko also did us the honor of watching our show Sunday morning. They gave me hugs afterwards as well as good feedback!. It was a pleasure to share the stage and the green room with them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Behind the Scenes of Momotaro

I went to bed at 8:30pm so now I'm up at the crack of dawn with plenty of time before the shows this afternoon. So I thought I'd make a blog post and show you things from our point of view.
Here's a shot of the puppet and prop rack behind us:
Behind the scenes: Prop Rack 1
In future productions, I think I'll lower this prop rack. This is a good height if we were standing, but being on our knees, we have to unhook the puppets, lower them and then put our arm in them.
The props on top are sitting on a lovely gadget I got at Daiso. Did I mention I love Daiso?
Here's a shot of Stage Right:
Behind the scenes: Stage Right 2
Right under the playboard is our cheat sheet for the words of the Japanese song. By now though, I don't think anyone looks at it.
Those S-hooks you see there, Mandy picked up for me at Daiso as well. I hereby nominate Daiso as the official store of the puppeteers. I originally thought that pink s-hook was going to be too long, but it's not at all when you are kneeling.
Finally, here's a shot of Stage Left:
Behind the scenes: Stage Left
That's a flat omni-directional microphone next to the fence prop. Sound has been our biggest issue. I never taught projection and I should have. Lesson learned.

Oh guess what! So many people I know showed up to see the Saturday shows and support our effort. So I'd like to thank the following folks for coming:
  • Marsha and her sister
  • Barb
  • Randy
  • June
  • Jon
  • Diana
  • Don
  • Dannielle
  • Mary
  • Frieda
  • Matt
  • Vicky
You guys are the best!

I'd also like to thank our stage crew:
  • Bob
  • Wes
  • Frank
  • Jason
My heroes!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mimibunko's Show

I know I've been putting "A Puppet Show" up on the flier you can download from this blog...for the Japanese language show that runs in between my two shows. But now that I watched the dress rehearsal, I can report that it has a name. It is "When the Riceball Fell" and it's quite a nice show. Yes, it is done entirely in Japanese but it's easy to understand even if you don't know what they are saying.
It follows an almost Grimm's fairy tale format of a nice person who finds himself in an unusual situation but is polite, friendly and kind. He is given a reward. A not-so-nice neighbor hears the nice fellow tell his wife about it and decides to do what the nice man did just to get the reward. He handles himself greedily, forcefully and impolitely. Naturally, things don't work out how he planned.
If you do decided to brave the language barrier and see attention to how the puppets are put together...I've never seen a show like it. The human characters are on rods strapped to the front of the puppeteer who stands upright and manipulates the character's hands in a Bunraku style. Her face is covered by a hood but you can see her. They also have a neat scene changing trick to watch for. It runs at 2pm both days.
Also...don't miss Momotaro at 11 and 4 on Saturday and 12:30 and 3:30 on Sunday!
See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What did you do on Labor Day, Elly?

  1. Sewing sock tubes on to black gloves to make long gloves (3 pair)
  2. Creating a palanquin
    New Palaquin and Rhys
  3. Sewing two more puppeteer jimbe tops
  4. Finishing the green oni’s boning and hanging ring
  5. Adding water to the bottom of the boat
  6. Creating a ‘How to Make a Glove Puppet’ poster
  7. Buying a slide whistle
  8. Fixing the Red Oni’s hands
  9. Fixing Momotaro’s hair (both puppets of Momotaro)
  10. Costuming the Momotaro baby
    Baby Prop