Several weeks ago I was commissioned to design and build a puppet character for a little girl and her family who spend quite a bit of time in hospitals. This character was intended to lift spirits and entertain while waiting for doctors - what better animal than an energetic and happy little monkey!
The fabrication of this puppet was really interesting and there were quite a bit of considerations, such as;
- This puppet would be used by a young child, so it must be durable and free of things that could be swallowed.
- The puppet would visit hospitals and there should be a way to clean it.
I chose to line the inside of the puppet with antimicrobial fabric so that it could be cleaned easily. The arms, legs and tail were all attached with doll joints as well as sewn on for added security.
The puppet was also designed so that it can wear Build-A-Bear and/or American Girl doll clothes.
During the last four months, I have had the pleasure of teaching with Eastern Michigan University Bright Futures 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
I have been teaching puppetry classes at a handful of the program's sites, ranging from 2nd grade to 8th grade students.
My class was titled "Puppetry 101."
The class was essentially a survey of many different puppetry styles, learning about and designing/performing a new technique every-other week. While we created many, many puppets throughout the four months and were very creative - we focused mainly on developing teamwork and collaborating together in order to bring a puppet character to life and develop performances.
The Puppetry techniques we covered were;
• Paper Bag Puppets
• Hand Puppets
• Rod Puppets
From the Bright Futures Website;
"EMU’s 21CCLC Bright Futures are high quality after school programs.
The weekend before Muppets Most Wanted was released in theaters, I held a drop-in video puppetry class at the Plymouth Community Arts Council. Participants would build their own 'Muppet Style' puppet and then learn basic monitor-performance technique. It was loads of fun - all ages were welcome and many new characters were created and skill learned.
For expediency I pre-cut and pre-sewed pattern pieces in four colors of fur (blue, pink, grey & purple) as well as pre-cut the mouth plate elements. Participants would then assemble the basic puppet, stuff arms and then decorate their puppet with eyes, hair and feathers.
Performance wise, we started learning lip-synch and eye focus with practice eyes (ping-pong balls glued to an elastic band) learning right & left on the monitor (everything is backwards) and then once we had our characters we lip-synched and danced to 30 second snippets of songs.
I was the proud participant in a three day performance workshop at the Sesame Workshop in New York City.
The class was lead by Muppeteers Martin P. Robinson, Matt Vogel & Peter Linz.
Fellow participant Mary Robinette Kowal has several Fantastic Write-ups on her blog, which I really encourage reading.
Photo Credit: Zach Hyman
More Info - www.PlymouthArts.com
Sign-up via phone or in person
Office Hours: Monday - Thursday 9 AM - 4 PM • (734) 416-4278
Ages 10 and up
4 Saturday's 9/21 - 10/12 10 AM - 12
How can an inanimate object come to life before your very eyes? This class offers students experimentation in the many styles of puppetry with an emphasis on how each technique translates into effective characters and story lines. Puppetry is a great medium for the live theatre artist because it combines all aspects of the craft - design, construction, performance and technical arts. It has been a part of theatre since theatre began. No previous puppetry experience necessary
Ages 10 and up
4 Saturday's 10/19 - 11/9 10 AM - 12
In this class we will animate drawings, paper cut outs, clay, wire frame characters and anything else we can get our hands onto. Bringing the inanimate object to life via frame by frame animation. Stop-motion is the animation technique used in such films as; “Wallace & Gromit,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “ParaNorman.” A Great way to amaze your family and create fantastic films! No previous puppetry or animation experience necessary.
Ages 10 and up
4 Saturday's 11/16 - 12/14 10 AM - 12
Utilizing the familiar overhead projectors from classrooms and other light sources, this class will create worlds and images of spectacle in a puppetry technique that has not changed for over 2,000 years, but has still amazed and excited audiences. This class in an exploration and experimentation in storytelling through shadow manipulation. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
Ages 10 and up
4 Saturday's 1/11 - 2/1 10 AM - 12
This class covers performance techniques when manipulating large, multi-puppeteer puppets. Known as "Bunraku," students will learn how to manipulate every aspect of their characters as well as gaining leadership and team working skills. Each puppet usually has three or more performers manipulating a section of the character. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
This summer I'm teaching two Puppetry classes at the Plymouth Arts Council in Plymouth, Michigan.
Intended for ages 10 and up - students can register over the phone or in person at the arts council.
June 24 - 28 // 9 am - 12 pm
How can an inanimate object come to life before your very eyes? This class offers students experimentation in the many styles of puppetry with an emphasis on how technique translates to effective characters and storylines. Puppetry is a great medium for the live theatre artist because it combines all aspects of the craft, - design, construction, performance and technical arts – it has been a part of theatre since theatre began. Class is limited to 10 students. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
August 12 - 18 // 9 am - 12 pm
This workshop will cover performance techniques when manipulating tabletop puppets – which are articulated 20” figures performed by up to three performers on a single puppet. This technique is also known as “Bunraku” and “Czech Black” style. Students will learn how to manipulate every aspect of their characters in this exciting puppetry technique. Class is limited to 10 students. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
If you're interested in hosting a class or workshop like these, feel free to contact me.
Marygrove Awning came to me with an idea for a series of commercials and print ads for Spring & Summer 2013. They wanted to have fun with this string of ads and were interested in having a sun costume designed and fabricated. I got to work creating sketches and mock-ups for the sun character to be played by long time Dick Purtan radio show character actor Big Al. This project was a lot of fun to work on and there are several more sun spots coming up - pun intended! The ads started playing on March 20th, 2013 - the first day of Spring! ... That was a nice touch.
** From the Highways Performance Space Website;
"Inspired by Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire and Alan Lightman’s novel Einstein’s Dreams, this an original multi-disciplinary performance investigates the gap between a current reality and an ethereal existence. In the process, it evokes the vulnerability and tenacity of the human spirit."
Directed by Sam Shay, this story told through dance and art performed at Highways Performance Space & Gallery in Santa Monica, May 3 - 5.
Chase designed and built two bird puppets for the show.
Here is the Official Website for the show.
Below is the show's trailer,
The website for a pilot TV program I worked on named Imaginus Zoo is now live!
From the site; "Imaginus Zoo takes place aboard a contemporary space station with built-in ecosystems. Our satellite ark includes artificial habitats like the arctic, jungles, desserts and oceans. Each habitat always seems to be on the verge of catastrophe, but luckily the IZoo crew saves the day.
The band of animals is led by Memo, a cute teddy bear with special powers who strives to make the world a better place. With sci-fi absurdist humor, the Imaginus Zoo crew’s hilarious space adventures never cease to entertain. Though the journeys are full of laughs, they teach viewers valuable life lessons along the way.
As our heroic animals soar across our solar system, they will encounter robots, aliens and new friends on their missions. The young audience will learn fundamental life skills for the developing mind– while occasionally being introduced to advanced ecological, scientific and technological concepts. Our stories possess something of value for us all!"
I had several duties on this production such as; lead puppet designer/performer and co-writer.
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