Monday, November 23, 2009

Little Man Monk goes home to NC

Even though I genuinly felt I had found a solid, wonderful performance for Arts and Nature Festival (Seattle) I was still doubting Little Man Monk "just BEING" with the audience...was it enough, was it "entertaining" , am I entertaining them?? Is that what it's about?

I think I just needed to go "home" . My folks live in North's where I grew up after age 11. In my 3 week visit I performed about 6 times. Two times on ASU campus for the students. Once for a "Puppet Festival" that just happened to be going on during my visit. Once for St. Lukes Fall Festival, in a cafe on International Day of Peace and in a sweet little local shop that sells Green Goods. The response was very sweet and overwhelmingly open armed! In fact literally open armed ...after one performance Little Man hugged all the children and once again it came to be that the adults wanted very much to be a part.....So, very quietly he spent a moment with each individual ...after a gentle embrace they each would bow to him and him to them. "The God in me sees the God in you. " It was truly magical. With each performance I could find my trust building. Trust that the performance was that HE is enough; That I am "enough". He afterall mirrors the thoughts I have about myself. He is my teacher. The teacher of GOOD enough. In his eyes We are all God enough.

The following performance is at the cafe back home. We bring him in and the performance /appearance is in complete silence(meaning he doesn't speak) and then he gets up after about 10-12 minutes of sitting and" being" and does a little dance...the sacred ditty.

Little Man Monk and Dahlia

Dahlia seems to enjoy his quiet company too.....

so, get this, Dahlia became very fond of Little Man. So much that I had to put him in his zipper bag because she was getting cat hair all over him. One day I left him on my bed in his bag..... But you can't fool Dallyboo....she knows where the lovin is!  She managed to find her companion even in his zip bag. I was flabberghasted!

I peaked him out so you could see. she found him!

The name...Little Man Monk

Little man Monk is what I call him...its actually not his name. He doesn't have a name. He hasn't told me one yet. so until then I call  him Little Man Monk.

Arts and Nature festival...Little Man's new performance setup

Here is the new setup. I love it. I knew from Artopia Festival that I wanted to create an atmosphere of reverence. I found a nice laminated beam to act as an "Altar". I put a Tibetan Prayer Wheel on the altar along with other items...his sacred rocks...which are sacred because they mean nothing...he just moves them about as the impulse hits him. Other items include...candles and some evergreen bough, as well, I hung Tibetan Prayer Flags. I later changed my mind on the authentic paraphernalia(prayer wheel and Tibetan flags). As I wanted to go more simple...I also didn't want to use these authentic items "un authentically"

Here is the exciting thing! I placed small carpet samples/wedges out in front of the Altar...this was perfect it told the audience..."put your behind on here and watch!!" No guessing, they know their role and are able to relax and just "Be" with Little Man Monk

Here are some mini photos of the festival. Notice the "costume". While at Artopia Festival John Leith and I discussed the need for more "sacred attire". I feel we are in service to the Monk ...due to his age he is somewhat limited in what he can accomplish without help. So, we are there to serve him and his purpose. I decided I wanted him to have an "entrance" as opposed to me pulling him out from behind the box...however having him enter from "across the way" posed a problem..walking...walking isn't his strongest movement or ability...Its also hard on me as well because , at this point, I am barefoot and stick my toes into the back of his shoes! Hence walking great slow distances with periodic gravel isn't , I created the platform. We carry him in. I am in the back puppeteering him and Heather(Gosnell) is in the front striking a small drum periodically. It is a nice 'ceremonial' addition. The platform gives the feel of a sacred figure being carried in. It works out very well...there are awkward moves here and there but we work that awkwardness into the performance... everything goes!

Artopia festival with Little Man Monk (this summer in Seattle)

One of those amazing chalk drawings..if you look at it from any other angle (other than this one) the drawing is extremely exagerated and stretched out.

Little Man Monk checkin' out the crowd...this performance was seat o the pants ...Nothing was planned...John Leith and I just went with an open enthusiastic mind!  It was fun, somewhat scary and VERY informative.....

We set up our "Lemonade stand/Dr. therapy advice booth/ Zoltar machine" and had a go at it.

Okay, so, this was my first performance after Freehold Studio Series... We show up and its like 80 degrees and our "spot" was slap dab on the blacktop....did not anticipate this!!! too hot to stand on in bare feet to make him dance(my feet have to be bare to fit in his shoes!) So, some kind soul from the festival brings us a painters drop cloth...yay! very grateful! then I put Little man Monks cloth down in front of the box(so he can dance). Without realizing it I was totally setting myself up for people KNEELING on the cloth and confiding in the Monk Puppet...Here were a few..

"Will I succeed in life????" this was a very genuine inquiry and it was a little bit difficult telling her the puppet didn't talk.   And  then a kid having witnessed her inquiry kneels down...
"Will I get the puppy I want?"..Little Man just looked up at his mother.     My improv skills are not very strong! I tried to be kind and not embarrass them but it actually made ME feel uncomfortable...I don't want to tell fortunes or give advice!!!!!!!!!!!!!  There were others that were too painful to go into. I learned that I can tell the audience their role by how I set the performance up. The audience WANTS you to tell them what to makes them comfortable when they know how they are to participate...of course not wanting them to be "comfortable" is another approach to performing. 

This was the gem of the day...I was close to tears as this little girl interacted with him. The wonder in her face as she tried to discern fantasy from fiction...She asked her mother "What is it?"  Her mother answered, "what do you think?" She looked back at him with furrowed brow and then .....

took his hand and looked deeply into his eyes. ....they became one in an instant.

Little Man Monk gets new "skin"

He was covered with whats' called  "Muppet Fleece" or Antron Fleece. I dyed it yellow and initially it seemed to do the job.I have always thought it made him look somewhat 'muppety' or cartoony. The look I was after was a bit more "realistic" or filmic like the creatures from The Dark Crystal. In this photo I am popping the seams on the muppet fleece.

I replaced it with1/4 inch foam...or is that 1/8 inch??  anyhoo...thin foam! It works great! I am happy because the rest of his exposed skin will match his head!

I glued the skin down to the cotton batting (AKA muscle structure) with spray adhesive (77 spray from Lowes)
Next time I will use Barge Cement for gluing the seams coming together...the spray adhesive is too hard to use. Barge is easier.

Almost done.To dye him yellow I just mixed acrylic paint with "a lot" of water and then dabbed on the foam...the foam cells grab the color here and there. It will be frustrating if you are looking for a nice even deep coat of paint. I was at first frustrated and then when I stepped back from the project and looked with "new eyes" I saw that he indeed needed this rough, uneven wash of paint to give him a more real appearance.

Puppet stage/hauling box

In the workshop....building the box, staining etc

Brett helpin' out!


testin' out the heigth. I imagined this boxs' purpose as double duty...hauling vessel AND puppet stage. It was strange as either...just because something seems like a good practice this doesn't always work!

Here is said "hauling box" finished.  Here's the modified bike cart to carry the box to a performance event.

Quite the nifty pair! Looks good!   However, a bike cart is designed to be towed by a bike not a human! Fully weighted this sucker is hard to control down a hill! I DID have a modified human "handle" on it.....however imagine trying to slow down by pushing down...there is no way to "brake" it.  That could be changed by putting a 3rd wheel on the front...somethings ya just gotta try out before you fully understand how they work!

Okay, so lets look at it as a puppet stage.......

Here's the general idea...puppet on box...2 puppeteers behind box puppeteering puppet on box.
Okay, so honestly, tell me it doesn't look a bit like Lucy's lemonade stand or wait was it a Dr./therapy stand???
Anyhoo, I must say, as well "thought out" as the design of this was...I was not able to see that the final product would look like a "Little Man Monk advice giving booth"  It may not seem as if the look is that important...However the design and presentation of the piece helps tell the audience what their role is.  The audience doesn't often know unless its obvious! This would require some serious consideration in the development of the "Little Man Monk" piece.