Winnipeg Photos

Some photos of our trip to Winnipeg this month for the Winnipeg International Storytelling Festival:

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The entire show of Saudade. Everyone was very impressed by our packing abilities!

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The poster for the festival.

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Genna sorts control rods before a show.

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The puppets (60 in total) laid out ready for a show.

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We performed in the gym at the NEEDS center, a community space for newcomers. Our fantastic sound guy, Hassaan is at the computer.

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Talking with the kids at the NEEDS Center after the show.

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The rivers of Winnipeg are beautiful in the sun.

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Cecilia and Genna at the opening dinner of the festival.

 

Seasons of Puppets

IMG_2307Here at Wit’s End Puppets, we build and create puppets all year long. The weather has recently become hot and muggy in DC, making me wish I had planned a little better and scheduled the spray painting for now, rather than back in January when it was 18 degrees out! Just for fun, a quick rundown of our preferred times for specific puppet-making activities.

Winter: It’s certainly not 20 inches of snow kind of weather in DC but it does get pretty cold out. Great time for staying inside and doing some wood carving, maybe sewing puppets with fabric. So why do we always seem to be spray-painting in the backyard during these months?

Spring: This is a much better time for sawing, spray-painting or anything that involves the outdoors. Due to limited space, we’re often going back and forth between the upstairs studio, downstairs living room and outside patio and this is a nice time to keep the doors open and let the dog run around (though not in the paint).

Summer: Ugh. Summer in DC is the WORST. Hot and humid, with bugs and pollen galore, there are many days when we just don’t want to move. Summer should be a time for sketching, painting a little and generally daydreaming, but that isn’t how it always works out.

Fall: Another good in-between time, fall is a season for working on paper-mache heads and cutting out shadow puppets. If we have lots of down-time while waiting for hot glue to set on pieces of polyfoam, there are all the new fall TV shows to distract us.

All kidding aside, puppet making is our passion and no matter the weather, we’re not quitting any time soon. We hope you’ll join us for one of our shows and see what we’ve created!

April Grab Bag

A round up of articles, photos and links we shared on Twitter this month. 

See #5. Photo by Mister Finch.

See #5. Photo by Mister Finch.

1. Another profile, this time of puppet-maker David Haaz-Baroque.

2. Pat has seen this from Peru and really likes their work. Too bad we couldn’t go up to NYC for the show!

3. Beautiful unique puppets from Vietnam.

4. More cool creations, this time by Matt Hopkins from Portland, OR, shared with us by our friend and Malevolent Creatures collaborator Nikki Martin.

5. The toadstool spirits here reminded me of some of the Malevolent Creatures characters.

So Many Changes

Like many artists, I am rarely satisfied with the first iteration of a project. After the performances of Saudade at the Intersections Festival, we had lots of conversations with audience members and each other about what could be clearer, stronger and more powerful in the piece. From puppet movement to sound, to crankie images, we examined each element of the project to see what could be improved.

Because we are going to the Winnipeg International Storytelling Festival in May, we have a deadline for completing all these fixes and it is getting close! Here are some photos of the work we’ve been doing:

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A new frame! We hope this will make everything a little more visible to the audience.

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Here, the fabric panels are coming together and the crankie is in place.

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We’ve added scenes to the end of the show. Here, Cecilia tries to manipulate three puppets with two hands.

An Interview with Katherine Fahey

Baltimore artist Katherine Fahey designed the puppets and crankie illustrations for SAUDADE. We asked her a few questions about her process and inspiration. Enjoy! 

Katherine's first crankie, made for Wye Oak video, Fish.

Katherine’s first crankie, made for Wye Oak video, Fish.

Cecilia Cackley: When did you start building crankies and what draws you to them as an art form? 

Katherine Fahey: I started making crankies in the beginning of 2011, when I was making a music video for Wye Oak called Fish. My first crankie was made as part of a larger shadow puppet piece. That was when I started to see for the first time that I could perform with my artwork. This was exciting and frightening to me. I have always admired the connection performers have with their audience, but I am a pretty shy person. I was excited to be able to combine my passions for shadow puppetry, paper cutting , music, and storytelling together, but wasn’t so excited about getting up in front of people.

CC: Who are some of the artists that inspire you? 

KF: My creative community mostly. All the folks at Black Cherry Puppet Theater (Valeska Pupoloh, Michael Lamason, Lisa Krause, Jenn Strunge, Kevin Sherry, and Porch Puppets),  Erik Ruin, Nanaprojects , William Schaff, Anna Robert Gevalt, Elizabeth Laprelle, and all of the other crankie makers, paper cut artists, story tellers, and puppeteers out there.

Katherine performing one of her crankies at the opening of her paper cut and shadow puppet exhibit at The Creative Alliance in Baltimore, with Anna Roberts Gevalt and Elizabeth Laprelle.

Katherine performing one of her crankies at the opening of her paper cut and shadow puppet exhibit at The Creative Alliance in Baltimore, with Anna Roberts Gevalt and Elizabeth Laprelle.

CC: What were some of the challenges in designing Saudade? 

KF: I have a lot of experience working with other artists, but have become accustomed to just coming up with a show on my own from start to finish. It was different to have to stop and ask Cecilia what she meant and try to see things through her eyes. We spent a good amount of time editing scenes together so that they could be translatable to shadow puppets and a crankie.

I was eager to cut things out and assemble things, so I had the get used to just drawing and coming up with ideas. I had to wait to see the final product, but then it was exciting to see the pieces finally come to life.
Puppets from SAUDADE on Katherine's sketchbook.

Puppets from SAUDADE on Katherine’s sketchbook.

CC: What was your favorite scene or character to draw and why? 
KF: I enjoyed exploring the aesthetics and folk art of the various cultures and incorporating this into the designs. My favorite puppets are the heads.
Large head puppets from SAUDADE, designed by Katherine.

Large head puppets from SAUDADE, designed by Katherine.

Katherine Fahey (right) and Cecilia Cackley at the opening of SAUDADE in D.C.

Katherine Fahey (right) and Cecilia Cackley at the opening of SAUDADE in D.C.

We’re Going to Canada!

Wit’s End Puppets is taking to the road! Or the plane, as a matter of fact. We have been invited by the good folks at the University of Manitoba’s Mauro Center for Peace and Justice to perform Saudade at the Winnipeg International Storytelling Festival in May.

This is the first time we have been able to take a larger show to an out-of-town event, so we are extremely excited! Since we wrapped up our INTERSECTIONS run, we have been making some changes to the show, adding puppets, polishing scenes and revising sounds to better achieve the effects and images in our minds. We received lots of excellent feedback from our audiences at the Atlas, and have been considering how best to incorporate audience suggestions. The show has a new ending, several interludes that break up the stories of our three main characters and we are working towards creating recorded monologues to begin and end the show that will feature the voices of many of the people whose stories were captured and shared in the script. Here are a few pictures of the progress we’ve made so far:

Amy is carefully placing the tiny paper birds between these two silhouettes.

Amy is carefully placing the tiny paper birds between these two silhouettes.

A new scene added at the end of show.

A new scene added at the end of show.

The ending images were all cut in one long big piece this time.

The ending images were all cut in one long big piece this time.

We have to carefully cut off the bottom edge to make sure everything matches.

We have to carefully cut off the bottom edge to make sure everything matches.

March Grab Bag

A round up of articles, links and videos that we shared on Twitter this month.

See item #5.

See item #5.

1. We wish we could head out to LA this spring for the Skirball Puppet Festival. It sounds like a blast!

2. Continuing with the theme of cool puppet events that we’ll have to miss, this production of The Little Prince in NYC also looks amazing.

3. Closer to home, it’s your last week to catch Pointless Theatre Company’s production of Dr. Caligari, with puppets designed and constructed by our very own Genna Davidson.

4. We were also excited to get to see The Winter’s Tale, produced by Half-Mad Theatre here in DC, with a puppet Mamilius.

5. This article about US puppeteer Paul Mesner was a lovely and thought-provoking read. Take a look!