Monday, August 17, 2015

National Puppetry Festival 2015 (University of Connecticut) -- Day 6 & 7 (Final)

If you have just come on board, this is the 5th post on my trip to the Puppeteers of America 2015 festival and conference. Following are links to all of the posts:

10am - Squirrel Stole My Underpants by: Bonnie Duncan

A lonely, awkward girl is sent out to the backyard to hang up the laundry and keep herself busy. The moment Sylvie’s back is turned, a mischievous squirrel appears, steals her favorite piece of clothing and runs off. When the girl gives chase, she finds herself lost in strange lands.  As the story unfolds, an entire world emerges from her laundry basket and Sylvie learns that she is a strong girl with magic within herself.  Live music by Brendan Burns and Tony Leva.
This piece gets my award for most charming show of the week. Very well put together and super fun for kids and families. The live music adds so much and we won't be able to manage it at the library (or the vast number of props), but I think it is a great example of what we could aim for in creative story telling. Not to suggest that we aren't already perfect ;)

The promo is only 1m10s and comes with groovy music from the show. You should I'll just go ahead and watch.

Squirrel Stole My Underpants Teaser from Bonnie Duncan on Vimeo.

11am - Puppet Parade

Over the first 4 days I had managed to construct a couple of puppets in my workshops and it seemed like it would be a shame to have come all this way and possibly miss my only chance ever to be in a puppet parade. I don't have numbers for you, but there were a lot of us. We marched perhaps 8 blocks into the heart of Stoors waving at a diffuse, but steady stream of children and families. Foam and his mask/puppet, Squiddy the heptopus, had a grand time watching for the arrival of netherworld demons.
I managed to make a few friends during the week and this was my last chance to enjoy a day of companionship with them.
The Canadian "Cat Woman"
Cat Woman's zany side kick, "Giraffe Girl" 
My travel buddy, "Zaney Lainie"
The Conference of the Animals - Loosely based on The Conference of the Birds, a storyteller with a mic. led a collection of 100 unrehearsed puppeteers on a journey discussing the perils of screen-time in modern society. Really, it was just a little guided improv work as an excuse to put on a puppet pageant for the parade watchers. Cool idea that was only a bit chaotic. For extra credit, feel free to look at the story in the original Persian with split screen English translation.

1-4pm - Fringe on the Street

Watched bits of several street performers/puppeteers and soaked up the artistic feeling. It was like a daytime puppet version of Nuit Blanche. There were 6-8 outdoor areas and venues where different shows rotated performing.

While wandering, I had a conversation with Heather Henson without knowing it was her. She had patch of an open square set up with a series of interactive environmental stations under the umbrella of her puppet company, IBEX Puppetry.

4pm - Threads by: Théâtre Incliné (Laval, QC)

“Listen, my love… Listen, my child… Listen to the river…” 
For this world is desperate for poetry.
And poetry is provided. Twisted, bleak and awesome. I guess I have something for French Canadian theatre. I loved Threads almost as much as I adored the Orphan Circus yesterday. While the atmosphere of both is dark, Orphan has many comic moments and leaves you feeling eerily curious. Threads is dark and leaves you feeling dark thoughts, despite a turn for the better at the end. Fortunately, I'm okay with dark. Again, what impressed me was a stunning set, intensity of performance, and skillful manipulation.

8pm - ¡VIVA PINOCHO! A Mexican Pinocchio! by: Teatro SEA (New York, NY)

A very political re-telling of the classic folktale, Pinocchio, from the perspective of a young Mexican immigrant, Pinocho. Audiences follow the puppet boy’s journey to understanding his sense of self while struggling to maintain his Latino heritage and find his home in a new land, the United States.
... To tell the story in new and visually exciting ways, the show has employed many techniques, including masks, black light, marionettes, shadow puppets and animation, direct manipulation puppets, and object puppetry.
I didn't particularly enjoy it, though it received accolades from the paying crowd. I found it lacked any subtlety with it's political message and had too many songs that felt the same. The technical elements of the set and puppets were very well done and the lone actor/puppeteer was both talented and likeable.


Sunday, August 16 2015

8am - Bradley International Airport in Hartford.

Reflecting on an amazing week. At 20 this event might have caused my life to be unrecognizable. At 43 the effect is bound to be more moderate. Instead of my life transforming to become this experience, I will have to absorb it, let it mingle with my DNA and try to allow it to expand inside me. Fill up any free space.  Right now, I think that the impact of this conference will be large, but it's so hard to know what will happen in the coming weeks and months.

Life really does have momentum. Eventually, I will find myself at the final destination and all the steering, diversion, planning, and change I can manage won't alter that. But, I'm leaving a trail behind me. A tiny orange thread wisping behind like spider silk. So small so small so small. Let it grab moisture from this pre-dawn sky and glisten with dew drops. Though we can never stop, let it slow my descent long enough for me to craft a most excellent web to share with you as we slide in and out of days--ever deeper into mystery.