The Origin of the Puppet

While some of the characters in this show, such as Kismet, have changed very little over the last year and a half, others have gone through lots of transformations. Darwin would probably be unimpressed with the random ways our puppets tend to mutate, as it tends to follow comments along the lines of “Does it look right?” rather than any natural selection. Here are some photos tracing the evolution of one object puppet, the Swirl Dancer.

I added the wood cutout to the melon baller. The way the circles at the top and bottom echoes the spiral is nice.

I added the wood cutout to the melon baller. The way the circles at the top and bottom echoes the spiral is nice.

Painting the swirl blue helps and the purple yarn hair brings focus to the top circle. The little purple scarf adds color.

Painting the swirl blue helps and the purple yarn hair brings focus to the top circle. The little purple scarf adds color.

Puppets can be fragile. After a couple of early rehearsals, the wooden swirl broke off. We still liked the hair, but we wanted to give her a skirt–at this point we were all thinking of her as a dancer character. But a skirt made from what? A sponge? Paper party blowers?

Genna ended up making a skirt from a scrunchie like fabric and layering it with a sparkly filigree decoration.

She's perhaps a bit more sparkly and princess-like than when she started out, but we like her!

She’s perhaps a bit more sparkly and princess-like than when she started out, but we like her!

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Set Building Day

Last week, Genna, our set designer Samina and technical director Niell spent most of a day working on various pieces of cabinet and paper world. The living room became a swamp of paper scraps, glue, wood and hardware as the landscape that Kismet encounters began to slowly emerge.

Set building 1

set building materials

paper panels

From the Rehearsal Room #2

We have four weeks until The Amazing and Marvelous Cabinets of Kismet opens. Tickets are on sale now and we are excited about the story that is coming to life! Here are some recent pictures of rehearsals, all taken by Sarah Gingold.

Mophead and KismetGenna and Heather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightbulb

 

What Can You Do With a Broken Umbrella?

So many things, if you are a puppeteer! After taking apart LOTS of umbrellas for various puppet projects this winter, we have a much better understanding of how they work–and why they break so easily! Fortunately we can use the broken pieces in many different ways. Here are a few of them:

We take large broken umbrellas apart and use the spokes as controls for shadow puppets.

We take large broken umbrellas apart and use the spokes as controls for shadow puppets.

An in-progress shot of a puppet from Cabinets of Kismet that uses the joints of a broken umbrella.

An in-progress shot of a puppet from Cabinets of Kismet that uses the joints of a broken umbrella.

And here it is again a little further along!

And here it is again a little further along!

 

 

Kindergarten Puppeteers

I was delighted to spend February working with the kindergarten after-care group at School within School at Logan Annex, a Reggio Emilia inspired center of learning. We spent four sessions learning about different kinds of puppets, building our own puppets from recycled materials and inventing scenes and stories to perform in small groups. Here are some photos of their marvelous, creative work!

The student who made this was very clear that it was a duck, with gold wings.

The student who made this was very clear that it was a duck, with gold wings.

This puppet is named Elizabeth.

This puppet is named Elizabeth. Her hair is scrap fabric and her body is a toilet paper tube.

Students performing a scene using chairs as a stage.

Students performing a scene using chairs as a stage.

The chairs allowed students to play puppets both above and below the seats.

The chairs allowed students to play puppets both above and below the seats.

Three student made puppets hitch a ride on a chipmunk puppet that a teacher brought.

Three student made puppets hitch a ride on a chipmunk puppet that a teacher brought.

Building Kismet #4

Our efforts have been focused on paper puppets for the past few weeks. With the help of Matthew McGee and puppeteers Heather Carter, Amy Kellett and Russell Matthews, we’ve created some new citizens of Paper World, out of scraps from SCRAP DC, local printers and the contents of the recycling bin.

Any guesses as to how these components might fit together to form a paper puppet?

Any guesses as to how these components might fit together to form a paper puppet?

Big or small, everything is made from paper!

Big or small, everything is made from paper!

Not too many tools needed--just a glue gun and scissors.

Not too many tools needed–just a glue gun and scissors.

Two paper friends, ready to be animated by puppeteers.

Two paper friends, ready to be animated by puppeteers.