Saudade would not have been created without the help and support of many, many people who agreed to be interviewed about their experiences as immigrants to the DC area. Some of these people also helped us record sound clips for the show; others contributed their memories, stories of challenges they have faced and of course, moments of saudade. For reasons of privacy, we are only identifying people by their first names, but we want to acknowledge everyone and say a huge thank you for your help!
Sonia – Stephanie – Eiko – Sebastian – Ruth – Santiago – Ana – Juliana – Ottoniel – Eddy – Victor – Juan – Seare – Yolanda – Yanira – Oscar – Anamaria – Fernando – Nurya – Alexei – Genevieve – Grimaneza – Cintia – Rosario – Miguel – Svetlana – Nurbiya – Benta – Souad – Natalia – Hoummad – Noelya – Marisabel – Julio – Zohar – Emi – Diego – Johanna – Andrea – Doyoung – Fabiola – Artemis – Savana – Erick – Emma – Victoria – Omar – Arie – Susana – Medina – Amanda – Mehdi – Rashad – Sandra – Birol
The puppets for Saudade are designed by Katherine Fahey, a Baltimore-based artist and puppeteer. They are cut from poster board and pieces are connected with fishing line joints and operated with either wooden or metal rods. In this short video, I’m creating a puppet of a teacher character. It’s a process that takes a lot of time, patience and precision with an X-acto knife.
Saudade was based on a series of interviews with immigrants to the DC area from all over the world. Among other questions, I asked everyone about moments when they felt ‘saudade’–the feeling of longing for a place or person you once had that is now gone. Here is a very short audio clip in Portuguese of one of the interviewees from Brazil talking about times when she feels saudade.
Building puppets is usually a painstaking process and even more so with shadow puppetry. The tiniest details make a huge difference and (at least for me) there is a lot of agonizing over whether or not a silhouette will make sense to the audience. For Saudade, much of the action happens on a crankie, a long roll of paper with black silhouettes of settings and characters. Creating the silhouettes for this involves several steps:
1. Set up this opaque projector so I can play with the size of the image. The taped out square is the size of the screen.
2. Project the image and fit it to the screen. This only works when it’s dark out, meaning I do a lot of this very late at night, after rehearsal.
3. Trace the image in white pencil onto black tyvek, which is very thin but strong paper that won’t tear easily. Important when you have so many tiny little details!
4. Cut out the image! Now it’s ready to go onto the background roll and eventually into the crankie.
I was lucky enough to take a workshop with shadow puppet artist Gabriel von Fernandez when I was in Argentina back in November. Based in Buenos Aires, Gabriel performs his own shadow puppet shows and teaches workshops to artists at all levels. Here is a page from my journal about my experience working with him.
We’re super excited to welcome Emily Marsh to the Wit’s End team as a puppeteer! She will be performing in Saudade at the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival at the end of February.
Emily Marsh is a singer, actor, puppeteer, and teaching artist based on the east coast. In 2013 she graduated with a BFA in theatre performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. Emily also received training at the Dah Theatre International School, an experimental theatre company based out of Belgrade, Serbia. As a puppeteer Emily has performed all over the midwest as a part of Madcap Puppets, a puppet company based out of Cincinnati OH. She has also performed with Brooklyn Puppetry Arts and interned with Lone Wolf Tribe, a puppetry companies based out of NYC.
As an actor Emily has performed both internationally (Cibiu International Theatre Festival) as well as locally (Imagination Stage, Capital Fringe Festival, KP Educational Theatre) Favorite credits have included Emily’s self-produced solo show Transfixed By the Dahlia performed as part of the United Solo Festival in NYC, and Beirut at Shafer St. Playhouse in Richmond VA. Emily is very excited to be a part of Wit’s End Puppet’s premiere performance of Saudade. When Emily isn’t playing pretend or wiggle dolls, she enjoys causing a ruckus and eating breakfast for dinner.
2. We have fantastic museums here in DC, but I’ve been wishing I could get to Chicago to see this exhibit of puppets at the Art Institute of Chicago.
3. Puppets can illustrate real world issues as well as ancient mythologies. One of our Twitter followers called our attention to this article about Ebola, illustrated with two-dimensional puppets.
4. The creator of the puppets for that article is Jons Mellgren, a director, illustrator and writer from Sweden. Here are photos of one of his stop-motion puppet films, called ‘Paperworld.’
5. Sometimes I think that I must have read every single article and interview with illustrator Shaun Tan. I don’t think I’ve shared this one though, which is a conversation with Neil Gaiman, one of my other favorite writers. It is quite delightful and I hope you enjoy it!