Friday, November 28, 2008

An After-Christmas Christmas Party?

“What the heck is that?” you ask.
Well you see, most professional puppeteers are pretty busy around the holidays what with all the holiday events, engagements and parties to perform at. Thistle Theatre and the Northwest Puppetry Center are both doing Christmas shows. Folks have told me of gigs in past years which included being a walking mountain with pop-up puppet inhabitants, running and voicing mechanical mall puppets and of course the kids room show at business Christmas parties. It all adds up to very little December free time.
So we have our Christmas Party in January. Our host for as long as I have been in the guild is Jean Matson, who opens her home to host about 12 to 20 puppeteers from the guild on average.
It’s always a potluck and there is always a gift exchange with the following rules: you can spend no more than $7 on the materials of the gift. You must decorate it creatively…that’s not a rule, just a suggestion because we do a judge a package by it’s cover exchange. We choose and steal before opening them. I tend to wrap mine in cool monster fur…so even if they don’t like it, there’s still something they can use. Some people wrap it to make you think it’s something other than what it is. That can be rather funny. I got these green mice last year:

(Last year our party was so late, we made it a St. Patty's Day party. Jean Mattson couldn't host one in January. But anyway...that's why I was dressed like that.)

At the party, the new slate of officers for the coming year is announced. Or, more often than not, just plain decided there on the spot…that’s not the best practice in my opinion, because we never are able to fill all the offices with only the 16 or so folks who can make the party. This year we’ve formed the nominating committee like the By-Laws says we are supposed to. All should be well I hope.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Douglas N. Paasch will be missed

The Seattle Puppetry Community was struck a horrible blow on Saturday with the unexpected death of Douglas N. Paasch by heart attack. He will be missed. Here's a picture I took of him giving a Q&A at a guild meeting. He's holding his Bunnicula puppet.

I recieved this in an email from another guild member:

In Memorium: Douglas Paasch
By Deb Fialkow

Douglas N. Paasch had over 25 years of experience in professional puppetry, with extensive credits as a puppet performer, designer, builder, director, and consultant. For the past 16 years he had been the resident puppet master for Seattle Children's Theatre (SCT). He also worked with local and regional theatre companies including: Intiman, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Co., Book-It Repertory Theatre, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa, CA), and Childsplay Theatre Company (Tempe, Arizona), Mr Paasch has performed internationaly in Bulgaria, Serbia and China. Douglas is also a theatre technician, with special expertise in theatrical effects. Douglas was an instructor or guest artist at CalArts, UW, Cornish, Seattle University, University of Puget Sound, the Art Institute of Seattle and the SCT Drama School. Douglas was a member of Actor's Equity Association and IATSE. Most recent projects included: 'Night of the Living Dead'and 'The Wizard of Oz'@ Seattle Children's Theatre (just opened last night!); doing the puppetry design, direction and construction. Other recent project included: 'The Mary Shelly Project' with Greg Loughridge, 'The Never Ending Story' at SCT.

Doug passed away Saturday, November 22nd, 2008. He suffered an unexpected, massive heart attack.

Doug was a sweet, generous man of extraordinary talent and imagination. His loss to his friends, the Seattle Theater Community, the theater and puppetry industries will be felt profoundly.

Cards, flowers, photos, remembrances may be sent to :
Doug's parents (Leanore and Norm Paasch): 17811 5th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98166
Lisa's address is 2109 N Anderson St, Tacoma, WA 98406

SCT will be holding a memorial, details will be posted as soon as they are known.

I have just heard that Lisa and Doug's family would indeed like to have a memorial for Douglas here at SCT on Monday, Dec. 8, starting at 7 pm. I do not know if anyone is preparing a formal e-announcement about it, so I ask that staff start to spread the word: better that people hear about it more than once than get left out.
Mangetout will be donating food. Witney Williams is coordinating details of programming with me. I do not yet have information about preferences for donations.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What the guild is up to…

This is a question I probably should address on this blog more often considering that the focus of this blog is puppets in Seattle and the local Renaissance fairs.
Since the Pumpkin Puppet carving party, we have had one other event. Brian Kooser invited us all on a back stage tour of his wacky and weird puppet play “UFO the Puppet Show”. Mylinda and I were both in attendance as the officer representation because our dear president is a tad young for the subject matter. It was that to be sure or as Brian himself described it “Very Naughty”. To say I liked the whole thing would be a lie…I have yet to see an adult puppet show I liked 100% of. I’d just rather not go there with puppets or any other medium for that matter. That's not entirely true...I don't mind puppet sex scenes, if they are not just tossed in and do nothing for the plot. That sort of thing gets boring really quick. But that’s just me. Maybe it's a woman thing...most of us seem to prefer romance novels to pornographic movies. Don't we?
As I watched, I focused on the parts I do like in any show…manipulation and puppet look, design and costume. Brian has a very unique style which I tend to feel is very scary or horrific. Of course, since my creation of the Oni for Momotaro, I shouldn’t be pointing any fingers. He is the fellow to which I credit the style of puppets I make with the combination of Papier-mâché and Japanese Paper Clay. The puppets I enjoyed the most were the two robotic characters (one just a head of one of his giant puppets) and the Aliens. I mean…is this not cool:

Or this:

As for the manipulation, at one point the character of Michael Jackson does his signature dance. This was exceedingly well done with a bunraku style puppet. At that point there were 3 puppeteers involved in the motion of the dance. I like bunraku puppets best when they have the full 3 puppeteers. This was no exception and it showed the care and research that went into creating the dance.
In other guild news, we have assembled the nominating committee for next year’s slate of officers. If you are in the guild, you may get a call from one of them looking for puppeteers to fill the officers for next year. I hope by forming an official committee, that no seats will be vacant this coming year. The new slate will be presented at the After-Christmas Christmas Party, which I have confirmed with Jean Mattson for the 3rd Thursday in January.