Wednesday, August 12, 2015

National Puppetry Festival 2015 (University of Connecticut) -- Day 3

Wednesday, August 12

How I'm Feeling Here

Tired, yet elated! With so much to see and do, my neurons are on overload. I wish the whole Children's Department could be here.

I'm going to try very hard to have the blog almost finished before my last performance so I can get a full night's sleep

9am-12pm - Simple But Elegant Rod Puppets

I worked with Bill Lorenzen and my table mates for another 3 hours. We lost a few people who were displeased with how yesterday went and gained a few participants and a couple of spectators. For my part, I loved Bill, but I can see what bothered people. He gets off topic, can be impatient and aggressive, but he is well into his 70's and still shares with me the wonder of a small child. He isn't in a second childhood. He just never left. It's a trait that seems to be VERY common amongst puppeteers and I am beginning to feel a real sense of community.

We completed the puppets for the purpose of the workshop, did some simple manipulation and then discussed a variety of materials from virtually free to prohibitively expensive. I was hoping to get a sense of multiple ways these creatures can be constructed. With some hands on experience and all the examples I am getting to see, I'd say it's been a resounding success.

1:30pm - Paper Hat Game by: Torry Bend

This showing was cancelled due to a last minute issue with their projector. They hope to reschedule. Before those of us in line found out, I did manage to investigate some interesting puppets in the lobby.

2pm - Toy Theater of Terror As Usual, Episode 13: Whistles and Leaks by: Great Small Works

Part of the toy theatre mini-festival, it was a political commentary (occasionally satirical) looking at the concept of freedom of information as it pertains to Gulf War veteran PFC Bradley Manning. It had all of the 4 performers visible and surrounding a 4' wide proscenium stage. It was surprisingly low tech. 

4pm - The Swan by: Le Theatre de Deux Mains (Based in Montreal)

Story-wise, a very simple take on The Ugly Duckling. The implementation is anything but simple. It was a basic marionette performance with a number of special lighting and set effects. Much of it hinges on a beautiful lighting design and the use of a computer monitor as an animated pond.

In this YouTube promo, you get the idea, but the lighting is much more enchanting live. Particularly the pond, as it flickers in the video due to the interaction between the monitor's refresh rate and the frame rate of the filming process (you didn't really care, did you? Okay).

5pm - Finding Home by: Eulenspiegel Puppets

A charming puppeteer delivers the history of her parent's survival of Nazi Germany and their emigration to America (in Rural Texas). Very conversational and disarming, it is performed with stick and shadow puppets (lit with candles) and materials recovered from the puppeteer's childhood, including drawings of the whole family made by her deceased mother... you know... before she was deceased, that is.

The sight lines in the performance space for this Toy Theatre were terrible. Raised seating was called for. I stood the entire performance.

8pm - White Like Me: A Honky Dory Puppet Show by: Paul Zaloom

A meta-puppetry exploration of hypocrisy and reverse, reverse, reverse racism... I guess. Paul is very talented and quite frenetic. If you combined Rodney Dangerfield, Andrew Dice Clay and a young, coked out Robin Williams, you'd have it about right. Too long by half.

Later On...

I have decided to avoid the late night shows in favour of sleep tonight.