Building SAUDADE #1

We’re in full puppet-building mode right now for Saudade, our next original puppet play which will premiere as part of the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival in DC at the end of February.

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This piece is all shadow puppets, which are being designed by Katherine Fahey, a crankie artist from Baltimore whose work we’ve been in love with for awhile. Here’s Katherine at one of our design meetings, looking mischievous:

IMG_2141 Saudade will use a setup similar to our piece Coyote Places the Stars in the sense that it uses multiple screens, but visually it will be much, much bigger. You can see Genna here, posing with the PVC frame she’s been working on to support all the screens:

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While not a traditional linear story, this play draws on the experiences of immigrants to the DC area, many of whom I had the pleasure of interviewing last summer through a partnership with REEP, an adult education program that is part of the Arlington Public Schools. Now I’m finally getting to cut out puppets of characters inspired by these incredible people, who bring so much to our communities here in the DC area. We’re looking forward to sharing their stories with you, too.

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Recent Workshops

IMG_1653In the past month, we’ve had several different workshops in DC and Virginia, teaching students ages 4-16 to design, build and perform their own puppets. Here are some pictures of what they created. As always, if you are interested in learning more about our workshops or bringing us to your school, check out our Education page.

The photo to the left was taken at the American Immigration Council’s Take Your Child to Work Day event. The puppets below were created in a workshop with the 2nd and 3rd grades at Tuckahoe Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia.

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Building a Shadow Show

How long does it take us to build a new puppet show? Coyote Places the Stars, which is a 5 minute show, took us about two weeks from start to finish. That includes writing and recording the script, designing and creating the puppets, creating the lightboxes and rehearsing all the movement. We divided a lot of the work; Cecilia handled the script, based on an idea from Genna and cut out puppets, while Genna designed all the puppets and sets and built the lightboxes. Here are some photos from the process:

The lightboxes that Genna built. They stack to form a tower.

The lightboxes that Genna built. They stack to form a tower.

Puppets in process of being cut out. After they are cut, we add velcro, sometimes to both sides so we can flip them.

Puppets in process of being cut out. After they are cut, we add velcro, sometimes to both sides so we can flip them.

Between the puppets and the stencils for the workshop, the living room table got rather messy.

Between the puppets and the stencils for the workshop, the living room table got rather messy.

Finished puppets mounted on their rods with velcro, waiting to perform.

Finished puppets mounted on their rods with velcro, waiting to perform.

We experimented with various lights and gels to get different looks and colors on the different lightboxes.

We experimented with various lights and gels to get different looks and colors on the different lightboxes.

The final sets in place, with Coyote looking up at the stars and Bear waiting down on earth.

The final sets in place, with Coyote looking up at the stars and Bear waiting down on earth.