Week 10

Week 10

Day 55: Projects

Today was our last day working on projects; we started the day in our large group projects; for me this was Shadow. We ran through our performance with Stephen Tiplady as our Technician, and wrote out a very thorough tech list for our technician for the performance; as Steve will be unable to be with us for the performances. Everything ran smoothly even the overhead projector; finding the mix for the oil/paint/water mix to create a starry sky has been a bit touch and go throughout (but we have persisted because when it works it is spectacular), we used some different paint today and it worked a lot better. Our piece is running at about nine minutes, but since this was our first full run through we know we can cut it down, and there are clear areas that can be speeded up. After having quite a successful last session with Rex everything seems to be falling into place for us, by the end of today’s session we had a clear structure and were playing with in it. The only thing I haven’t pinned down in any way is what I am saying; there are clear moments for interactions with the audience, and Rex is coping with those moments quite well. I however am just ad-libbing, and have a rough idea of what to say, but I know the moment I perform for an audience that will suddenly all change; hopefully for the better. Towards the end of the session, Andy (who is also doing a solo 2 as 1) and I took some time to perform our Solos for each other, and give feedback. This was very useful, and helped me to find a clearer ending for my performance. Then Rene spent some time with me also which was great and gave me time to iron out some areas. I’m puppeteering with one hand in a heavy suede glove and it was helpful to have her on hand to ensure the glove wasn’t interfering with the manipulation of Rex.


Day 56: Sharing with the group.

Today we ran through everything for our performance tomorrow in order of the night and in position for most. It was great being able to see all the work that has been created, although we have all been working on pieces all at the same time in the same room, you only really catch glimpses of others work as you are concentrating on your own thing. Today it reminded me of what an exciting and creative group we are.
We performed our shadow piece; this was the first time we got to run through the whole thing with our technician Rachel. We have moved the video projector over a bit, so as to give us a full screen projection (Up until now we didn’t have an AV lead long enough) which altered things a wee bit behind the screen and meant that we had to be much more conscious about our physical bodies getting in the way of the projection.
Rex and I shared what we have been working on; this was the most nerve wracking performance I have ever done. Even though I have shared work before, actually sharing it today was really quite scary. After working on our own for a couple of weeks, even though Rene and Sarah have watched what I have been developing it felt really strange for everyone to be there focused on what Rex and I had created. However the feedback I got was really positive and the nerves seemed to help Rex come alive; his jaw is very sensitive to movement. I was pleased that the structure of Rex and I’s piece allowed us both freedom to move within it, and having an audience helped me to find the rhythm of what I was saying, and find the comedy in it. Tomorrow Rex and I move into the shed next door where we will be performing. I need to remember the rhythms from today with the audience but like the Zanni’s from last week be prepared for anything.


Day 57: Shed day.

So today Rex and I moved into the Shed, and with help from Rebecca we got set up; we put up a red curtain and some birdies. The down side of being in the shed is that it has a clear Perspex roof so unlike all the other groups, we had to wait on the sun going down before we could do a tech run and make sure the lighting was in the right place; which it was because Rebecca is excellent. It was nice to have a companion out in the shed. Rebecca was able to give me advice on positioning, and working with the lighting we found a clear end to the performance. Rex seems to be enjoying the shed too; I realise I’m talking about Rex like he is a living breathing creature, don’t worry I’ve not lost it, but he is an equal part in the performance. While we did a run through Ronnie Le Drew came to visit us and gave me some advice on Rex’s stance; Rex wasn’t completely grounded and Ronnie had a look at his feet, and suggested that the wire rods at the back of his feet be bent down slightly to help ground him better. Immediately Rex’s presence was much stronger, and I felt like I had a lot more control over his movements when he was standing, he looked much more alive. It is amazing how such a simple change could make such a difference, and it reminded me again of the importance of outside eyes.
Tonight is our first performance night. Rex and I will be presenting a lesson in training Dinosaur Birds. We are both very excited.


Day 58: Our last official soup night; our last performances.
Rex got a great reception; the audience seemed to really enjoy his moves (people really dig bones), and he really enjoyed having an audience. I felt like he really came out of his shell, and could take his time and just really enjoy it.
So overall the performance last night went really well; we got a lot of great feedback from the audience. For me the only part that didn’t work; in terms of the overall performance, was my mini solo with “Bone dog” amongst our group performance ‘NEW DAY’; it is quite a shift in mood from the rest of the performance sequences, and other pieces surrounding it that were more fitting had already been cut, before our first performance day. We spent the afternoon reworking and revising some of the pieces, in this reworking ‘Bone dog’ was cut, which I am happy with. Sarah asked if Rex and I would perform twice in the shed this evening’ alongside the Small world performance in the Library; allowing those that had maybe not had a chance to see everything, see everything.
I have also requested to have my performance of Rex filmed as being so far from home, a lot of my friends and colleagues are unable to attend our performances, and I think it’s really important for me to keep a record of the performance and the audience reaction. Watching puppetry on film can appear very flat but it helps give a sense of the performance,and it can really help if I want to develop Rex further.


Day 59: Packing up.
We started a little later today; we had our last movement class with Rachel, it was lovely, a nice warm down for our bodies after all the stress and strains of performing; which ended in a group massage/hug which could have lasted forever.
We spent some time discussing the performances, and response/feedback from the audience, both directly and indirectly. Rex again had a great response, and I’m really happy with how the piece has developed during our time in the shed, every performance is different. Due to the design/structure of Rex as a puppet, he has an element of unpredictability; which is quite exciting to work with as a performer (He keeps me on my toes).
We began the big task of cleaning down and packing up, starting with the hall; taking down all our illustrations, dismantling the staging and scaffolding ready for collection and breaking the hall back to how it was before we were there. This hall has essentially been our home for the past ten weeks and to see it all being packed up was very sad. Once the hall was pretty clear we filled out the last pieces of our group diary. Then we had our own last soup night/ Graduation ceremony. Sarah and Rene set up a table with all our Curious Mugs and certificates, and presented us each with an Object which represented us in some way. I was presented with a Horn; for its sudden surprises.


Day 60: Last day
Oh what a sad day today is; we have spent it cleaning up all evidence of being in the building. So instead of sitting here, listing for you all the items we packed, I thought it would be better to give you a more reflective blog on the course as a whole, and where I am now.
Curious School of Puppetry has unlocked my confidence as a puppeteer; I came to the course with some manipulation experience, but I would say that my skills have been finessed considerably whilst here. Thanks to all the Tutors we have had the privilege of working with, I feel like my skills go a lot further than I had anticipated them ever going.
In terms of puppet construction, when trying to develop work with puppets previously; I have always been unsure about making them. Not known where to begin, and felt that held me back when creating work. I now have those starting blocks; I know the questions to ask; what is needed of the puppet? How will it be used? Is it a ten minute puppet or a 6-week puppet?
In terms of making work (performances); I now have the inroads to creating work in more dynamic and fruitful way and (and this is probably the best thing) I have a sixteen+ puppeteers/theatre makers who I can approach to bounce ideas off, share work with, and create new works with.
Throughout this course I have been encouraged to be brave, bold, and challenging, and although naturally nervous about returning home, away from my puppet family; this is the most exciting time. So what’s next?
I’m hoping to take Rex to a cabaret night in London next month, hosted by one of my class mates companies. I’m in discussions with one of the Curious students from 2016 (also from Scotland) about developing some work together. I’m planning to develop some work on my own. And immediately when I get home I will be teaching a full day puppetry workshop, for Scottish Youth Theatre’s ‘Theatre Toolbox’; which I’m really looking forward to.
And then of course there is Curious 2018… In Edinburgh!
The Curious connections are going further, Thank you for following these ramblings, maybe I’ll see you at Curious 2018?