Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mobile Puppet Theatre AKA TWIG Gypsy Cart

So here is the official TWIG mobile theatre. The idea is to be able to perform at festivals, in parks, on streets(busk) or anywhere else with a fully self-contained theatre....I took two woodshop classes and built a giant entertainment center!! (haha!) Under the guidance of a great teacher and friend...the very noble Sir Robert Stevens (and his trusty accomplice in greatness...Dale Evans.) Thank You, Thank You from the corpuscles of my heart. You shall never know...

Without wheels it is about 5 feet tall, 22 inches deep and 32 inches wide. This is a shot before the doors went on. See the handle on the other side...once she gets her wheels she will tilt and roll like a hand truck . The top compartments house the sound system as well as the AC/DC "switch". I will have the ability to plug in or be self sufficient!
The three large compartments(with curtains) are for puppets and lanterns. Valuables will be stowed away behind the little door with the lock on it. Below that- puppet first aid supplies and the bottom slot is for my sandwich board and a coupla small fold-up chairs. I tried to think of everything!!

Living in California and watching the street performers sparked my interest in this rather intimate way of being with the audience. Busking makes "the magic" available to all, right there unexpectedly. I love that. Suddenly, total strangers are talking and laughing together. I am interested in bringing puppetry to everyone...especially adults....Those of us who have forgotten our own wonderous heart.

 I built the theatre with this in mind. As well, I considered the parameters outlined below in the Santa Monica buskers guide manual. Yes, there is a manual for this. And it says....

All performers/performances 

1- MUST BE SELF-CONTAINED...meaning no plugs...DC only..(.however for most other venues I knew AC would be available so I wanted both.)

2- MUST be able to move or relocate in ONE trip....getting wheels...check!!

3- MUST NOT "set up" a stage....while I don't exactly need a classic puppet stage I do need a "staging area"...a backstage area. A place from which to reveal the puppets out from behind. The cart itself serves this purpose with nothing further to assemble. It is the perfect height to be able to hide behind and put the puppet "on".

Here it is ...doors open. This is the audience side. The audience sees the design and name of the theatre...I am imagining 2 lanterns on either side towards the top..they will be old European looking lanterns with crackled amber isinglass (mica in thin sheets).  The wheels are going to be 24" hand made Amish wooden wagon wheels... this tops off the Gypsy look! Hey, it's the Hungarian in me! Thanks grandmama.

Here is a closeup of one of the motifs I played with. It is an Art Nouveau Font. I have always felt very passionate about The Art Nouveau movement. The space below will be inhabited by a small woodland scene. Something dark....a little hard to see...kinda nondiscript. like..."OOoooo, thats mystical and curioso...what is it?!"
A dark piney forest...a sparkles, smudges and fireflies...yeah...something like that.

Details details details! I love the details!! Here is a close-up of the steel bar handle... I wrapped leather around it and stitched the pieces in place and then added some colorful wispy yarn pieces. Back in '89 I went to Magico Magico School and let me tell you, colorful wispy yarn pieces are like basic 101 magic conjuring.
I will also be adding a cowbell for carting the crowded cobble streets of buskingland. :)
To top off the old world Gypsy look I have been saving this old rusty turn-of-the-century padlock that I will use to lock the two doors together. As we roll up to perform people will say "Whoa! What could possibly be inside such a magical looking thing?" and I'll say "stick around and see ...more magic indeed."

Meet Magpie!

Meet Magpie! Magpie is a sock full-o-love and just dyin' to get out and express it!
He is a bit shy at first but his curiosity always gets the best of him. Sometimes his enthusiasm trips him over his own big feet!

Although he is the very first puppet I ever built he has yet to perform for an audience. He always seemed to be "in process". Magpie had the privilege of being my puppet school 101. I have rebuilt him about 5 times. He is how I first came to learn how to build a puppet...even if he was (initially) really ugly and weighed a ridiculous amount due to all the wood and metal in his body!!! I am looking forward to re-building him one... last... time . (yeah I know, thats what YOU think!!!)

Um, not sure whats going on here???....I look like I was being venemous about killing the fly on the window...and Magpie just scratched his head and looked at me as if to say...."uh, can we just get a cup and save it?"

This is his old (current) structure; a plastic pvc skeleton. He was then bulked out with cotton batting and covered in white "Muppet fleece" and yes he is very 'blacklight' friendly!
In the new build I would use L200 foam...making him super light weight ("hollow") and much easier to maneuver. His head, of course, will remain a sock.

who me?


"Thats what you think!" said magpie laughing uproarously.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Little Man Monk performance @ 12 Minutes Max

On The Boards in Seattle does a performance every month called 12 Minutes Max. It is for new, experimental works or 'works in progress' no longer than 12 minutes! Heather Gosnell and I auditioned with Little Man...and although the audition was a little clumsy for both of us- we got in! 2 weeks later (nov. 22-23) we did two evening shows with 6 other performers/performances.

This was a great experiences! It helped me to really work on the piece and work out a lot of the details/kinks. It was really interesting doing the piece for a theater audience versus an outside festival audience. Being inside a quiet theater there was a lot less stimulus (aka a lot less to "work with") We choreographed a lot of the performance as I was not sure what interacting in this environment was going to look like. I was a little nervous!

I really liked the performance we finally came up with. I think the audience did too. We really found the reverence of Little Man Monk; not just his demeanor but also the colors of the piece, the drummed entrance; all the way down to the gold fringe on his platform. Now that we have really explored that side I am really excited about exploring more humor and absurdity with this Little Man. There is a deep well to explore here!

Sitting long enough...time to get up and move around a bit.

We assist Little Man in the "dismount". He's a bit squeeky in the bones ya know.

 sitar please.....

and if you must know here is the song he was dancing to....played by the extraordinary Nathan Flutebox Lee!

Feelin' the flow...

Time for the Sacred Ditty.

some hip action....

he likes this part!

He's serious about his dittying

and peace out

And another video featuring Nathan Flutebox Lee....
can't hep it!

New Wooden "Altar" for Little Man Performance

Finished Lovely

I built this beautiful altar (AKA coffee table in my room! )with the help of my good friend John Blunt. He generously contributed his time, his woodshop, and his creative geniusness. Thank you John! To see more of his beautiful work go to:


This Altar was made specifically for the Little Man Monk performance. It is much lighter than the laminated beam I WAS using. It was made from materials scored at the "Re-Store" in Ballard. When I saw the tabletop with its sliding dovetails I knew it had the look I wanted. It was $15! The legs are made from a $5 painted beam. Building this table was an amazing experience as I learned how to use/make peg joints to hold the legs on the table.

John demonstrating how to cut a peg joint off with a Japanese saw

Me giving it a whirl...

Hey, I like this!

A coat of dark stain and it dried just in time for the 12 Minutes Max performance!!