August Grab Bag

#5 The website Bookriot has excited muppet arms for both books and Muppets!

#5 The website Bookriot has excited muppet arms for both books and Muppets!

A roundup of articles, links and videos that we highlighted on Twitter this month. 

1. The first book on puppetry I ever bought was by John Wright of The Little Angel Theatre in Islington, London. His wife Lyndie still carves puppets for them and this article about her is just lovely. If you go to London, try to see a show there.

2. As we continue to work on Malevolent Creatures, this website looks intriguing and will hopefully help out our research.

3. At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, the show The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant took a look at the upcoming Scottish independence referendum through the eyes of four Scottish fairies, including Selkie. Read a review here.

4. Yet another amazing interview with one of the giants of contemporary illustration and a special hero of ours, Shaun Tan.

5. And because really, most things should end with the Muppets, here is Bookriot with a roundup of literary-related Muppet antics. Enjoy!

October Grab Bag

Tan's sculpture for 'Hansel and Gretel' retold by Philip Pullman.

Tan’s sculpture for ‘Hansel and Gretel’ retold by Philip Pullman.

Because our show Cabinets of Kismet was inspired by him, I’m going to bring in the artist Shaun Tan as the subject of this month’s grab bag. A few beautiful, thought-provoking and wise items to view or listen to:

1. Shaun Tan theater! Featherwight Theatre is  a company of dancers and theater makers from England who presented The Red Tree  at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. It was a beautiful adaptation, with many innovative and surprising ways of bringing Tan’s images and words to life. You can see a video and hear some of the original music on their website.

2. More Shaun Tan theater! Clearly there is consensus that Tan’s stories are compelling on the page and even more compelling when brought to life by actors, dancers and puppets. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, from Fremantle Australia, recently performed an adaptation of Tales from Outer Suburbia, a collection of Tan’s short stories.

3. A new book! Tan’s latest picture book, Rules of Summer was just published in Australia. A story of two brothers and the rules they learn, the book pairs simple phrases (‘Never leave a red sock on a clothesline’) with surreal oil paintings that provoke questions and ideas.

4. An interview about Rules of Summer is available to see here. Tan talks about his inspiration, and process in creating the book, as well as principles of storytelling and bookmaking in general.

5. Tan’s other new book is actually in German. Philip Pullman, the celebrated fantasy author, published a collection last year of his favorite fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. His version of the stories has now been translated into German, illustrated with amazing sculptures by Tan. You can see photos of some of them and learn a little more about why he chose to create sculptures rather than paintings, here.

September Grab Bag

The Light Princess, a new musical with puppetry at the National Theatre in London.

The Light Princess, a new musical with puppetry at the National Theatre in London.

A quick note here with a VERY short September grab bag. We are in the midst of building puppets for Fábulas Mayas and battling illness as well as stubborn cardboard and dull X-acto blades. However, I wanted to highlight two puppet projects from the UK; one of which I saw in Edinburgh this summer and another which just opened at the National Theatre in London.

1. Bunk Puppets is a one-man operation with several shows in repertoire. Slapdash Galaxy, which I saw as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, tells the story of two brothers who leave their home planet in search of a new home. The puppets are shadow puppets, but projected from the front onto a screen, rather than from behind, the way all our shadow work has been created. At the end of the piece, 3D glasses are handed out and the shadows turn three-dimensional in an impressive display. If you find yourself at a festival or in a city where Bunk Puppets is performing, be sure to check them out.

2. A much larger project is The Light Princessan original musical by Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson based on the 19th century fairy tale by George MacDonald, which just opened at the National Theatre in London. Part of the creative team worked on War Horse at the National Theatre and this new play also includes puppetry. The story of a princess who cannot cry and is in danger of just floating away, this sounds like a magical new piece that I would definitely see if I were lucky enough to be in London this fall! Amos talks about the process of writing the show in an article here.