FINAL PUPPET SHOW

Not only did we perform our final show to the rest of our course, but we got the oppurtunity to perform it at a puppet cabaret. The puppet cabaret took place in a small centre in Nottingham called ‘City Arts’. We performed alongside professional puppeteers, to a varied audience. This was a beneficial environment to perform in as it allowed us to test our show.

I personally like the way that our performance turned out. It was created around a strong subject that a lot of people can relate to. I like the fact that we used a emotional poem to narrate the piece, I think this makes it easier for the audience to understand it.

‘Anxiety: a ghost story’ By Brenna Twohy:

 

Finished Show:

 

Finished Video:

(rough quality)

This video is not the complete performance, we were unfortunately unable to video it all!

 

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PUPPET SHOW | SCENE SELECTION

SCENE 1:

The puppet will begin asleep in the centre of the stage. The puppet will be awoken by the arrival of the puppeteers. This is something we learnt in Pervin’s masterclass, waking the puppet up is almost bringing them to life.

This scene is based around the quote ‘to love me is to love a haunted house’. The background of this scene will be a light shadow window in the top right had corner of the back drop. This will be simple and quite large; 4 light boxes arranged as a window. We will haunt this scene by using more light shadows. Manipulating a mirror in front of a light, will enable us to reflect ghostly shapes onto the backdrop around the window. This will be done behind gauge.

This scene will be effectively the beginning of the puppets day.

SCENE 2:

In this scene the puppet will be awakening, attempting to go about it’s normal day. The scene is designed to portray how difficult it can be for a person struggling with mental health issues to get up, how simple tasks for everyone else can be huge for them.

The puppets movements will be slow and well thought out, in order to show the struggle. Having the puppet make quite inward movements enable the audience to read its emotions as sad and anxious.

In this scene the background will change to a shadow of a graveyard to respond to the section;

‘I have a cemetery in my backyard,

and in my front yard,

and in my bedroom.’ 

SCENE 3:

The puppet begins this scene by walking through the cemetery, that features in the previous scene. It then begins to run, as if it has been scared.

Panic is a stubborn phantom,

she will grab hold of me

and not let go for months- 

this is the part of the story

where everyone is telling you to run.

I think that here the phantom is the thing that scares the puppet, spooks it into running. As a group we are considering including some sort of shadow ‘panic’. The idea so far is that we have a small cut out figure that we put in front of the light, possibly moving so that it enlarges as the puppet runs.

SCENE 4:

The puppet stands and acts almost skeletal.

My anxiety is a camera,

that shows everyone I love as bones.’

Ideally we would like another puppet to be back stage. We would shine a light on this puppet to show a shadow of an almost skeletal form on the backdrop. Here the puppet on stage will have a breakdown and slump to the floor as if it was a pile of bones.

SCENE 5:

This is the scene designed to be the ‘up’ point of the characters day, the happy part. All people who suffer from anxiety don’t spend the entire town sad, they have happy points too. In the case of Brenna her happy times are with her love that she mentions a lot.

so we turn the music up

and we dance to Miles Davis.’

Here the puppet begins to dance around the stage, almost as if they are dancing with a non existence person. In the background, the window appears again, but this time with dancing puppet figures as well. This helps to suggest that the dancing with this ‘love’ is just a memory? it is not a constant in her life?

SCENE 6:

Scene 5 leads well into this scene.

‘Darling,

this love will not cure me’

As if to say this ‘love’ is happy and great and it brings her up for a period of time, but her anxiety can not be taken from her.

Here the puppet reaches up into the corner, it attempts to grab a shadow hand that also appears. Unfortunately for this puppet the shadow hand is to high and to far away.

SCENE 7:

To love me is to love a haunted house,

its fun to visit once year,

but no one wants to live there’

The puppet fall asleep again, the opposite of the first scene. The idea is to symbolise the fact that mental health is a cycle, one moment you are happy and one moment you are right back down again.

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PUPPET SHOW | FINAL IDEA

Our groups final idea for our puppet show stems from the initial concept of mental health. Our show is to be focused around a poem that comments on the struggles of a woman living with severe anxiety. It is full of striking metaphors that help to describe her feelings, and the feelings of others with similar health issues. We felt, as a group, that the poem is easy to relate to and can help us to enlighten others to the struggles faced by those who live with mental health issues.

Anxiety: a ghost story.’ By Brenna Twhoy

Our idea is to take key words, phrases and ideas from this poem and act them out using our puppet. Previously we had discussed how horror could become an interesting theme to look at within a puppet show. By using this poem we feel we can touch on this idea.

‘to love me is to love a haunted house,

it’s fun to visit once a year,

but no one wants to live there.’

This is one of the key quotes we have taken from the poem. The idea of comparing the body to architecture, from a design point of view, is an interesting one. There is a lot we can do with this.

CONSTRUCTING A PUPPET | STEP BY STEP

How to construct a puppet:

STEP 1:

Create a set of stencils for each body part. Ours were card cut outs that slotted together.

STEP 2:

Use the stencils to cut the wood to size. I think this was one of the most difficult parts of the task. The slots that allow the wood to slot together need to be precisely cut. This was difficult due to how small they were. Mine were slightly too large which means that the two pieces did not slot together well.

During this step it is important to remember to drill holes in each bit of wood. This will be how the whole puppet is joined together at a later stage. It is also easier to do this whilst the puppet is still at a 2D stage.

STEP 3:

Cut out blocks of polystyrene to fit with the wood to create one large block. This is the basis of the whole body part. The material that will be shaped to create the curves of the body.

The polystyrene is then stuck to the wooden structures using a contact glue. This glue is applied to both surfaces, left to dry, and then stuck together. The glue is strong and so will withstand any shaping that will occur.

STEP 4:

Using various files and other tools, shape the polystyrene. Try to make sure that it is as realistic as possible. For example I added a spine to my abdominal.

STEP 5:

Take a piece of sandpaper and continue to shape. Make sure that the polystyrene is flush with the wooden pattern pieces. Using sandpaper creates a smoother surface with less indents, making it easier to paper.

STEP 6:

Line up the piece with the body parts it attaches to. Make sure that it fits well, and can achieve its purpose. That it can bend and move correctly. If anything needs to be rectified this is the stage to do it.

STEP 7:

When the piece is completed, the time comes for it to be covered. We decided to use brown paper for this; however some groups used news paper, and even muslin.

STEP 8:

Use elastic to fit all pieces of the puppet together. It is important to think about how a body moves at this point, this will allow you to know how tight to fix each joint. Also it is important to remember that elastic stretches, so the tighter the better.

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INTRO TO THEATRE DESIGN | PUPPETRY

Our course began in a more informal way compared to most. We played Grandma’s foot setps and cut small shapes out of wood. All fun and games really.

The first official project of this course is puppetry. We are looking at the construction and manipulation of Bunraku (puppets manipulated by three puppeteers) puppets, with the aim of a small puppet show to finish.

We have been split into 4 groups, each assigned a puppet to create. Within each group every person chose a body part to sculpt. For me, it was the abdominal area. My task is to use polystyrene, wood and paper to create a life like piece.

I think what is interesting about the puppets that we are being asked to create, is that they are expressionless and genderless. They have no personality, and so can become any character that we wish.