Photo by Alex Griffin
Rest in Peace Jane Henson - I was 18 and attending my first O'Neill
Puppetry Conference, I had just finished performing a late night solo act in the pub and Richard Termine pulled me aside saying; "I'd like you to meet Jane Henson." Puppet in hand I sat at Jane's table and Richard introduced me with a splendid intro, mentioning that in high school I had started a puppetry club/troupe - to which she responded; "Oh!...Like Jim..." Dry mouthed and nervous as could be with adrenaline pumping I stammered out some words. Jane so welcoming and soothing asked; "When did you start doing puppetry?" My answer - like many puppeteers - was 5 years old, to which she replied; "What did you do before?" One of the best questions ever, because what is puppetry but the natural human tendency to play with and personify dolls, toys and inanimate objects. At that moment I didn't have a reply, but it didn't matter because she turned her attention to the puppet on my hand (whom I had kept active like a good puppeteer) and started asking him questions and engaged in a conversation with this character that I had only begun to develop. A great end to a marvelous and inspiring evening and the perfect beginning to a life changing conference. Thank you Richard for the introduction and Thank you Jane Henson for your time, attention, energy and focus.
Henson Co. Tribute Link
The National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center is a very important place where new works of puppetry is created. The conference is for everyone, from seasoned professionals to beginners, both looking to explore and learn.
This year (2012) I was on staff, assisting Martin P. Robinson teach a class in "Puppet Exploration."
** Description of the class from the Martin P. Robinson/the O'Neill website;
The Puppeteers Touch... The Objects Profundity
We Puppeteers know the magic that happens when a performer picks up or puts on a puppet of some kind and starts moving it in space before an audience. Too often, I feel, we rely on this novelty aspect of puppetry to carry the day. We don't buckle down to do our homework, to know our instrument in an intimate way so as to let the character and story shine through. Would any musician with only a passing knowledge of their instrument (or even a fairly good knowledge) attempt a concert for a paid audience? ...Puppeteers do this ALL the time.
I propose a week of experimentation in many styles of puppetry with an emphasis on exactly how well-thought-out technique translates to effective characters and storylines... a respect for the objects and a respect for the audience. I would like participants with some performing experience...applications will be reviewed with this in mind. Mostly, of course...all admonishing and profundity aside; I just want to have a blast with some cool people for a week...
- Martin P. Robinson
** Below is a video with Artistic Director Pam Arciero
In the video at the 0:11 mark, is footage of my project "s'Muther," which I workshopped as a participant project at the O'Neill in 2010.
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