Showing posts from June, 2017

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Eight

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Eight... by Suzanne Kendall Turning Japanese Today we'll be exploring 'Bunraku' said Oli. I beg your pardon said I!  'Bunraku', or more correctly - 文楽 - is a form of traditional Japanese puppet theatre created at the beginning of the 17th century. For more information, here's a Wikipedia link: Traditional Japanese puppet theatre . The significant elements that really came into play in the class were the style of the puppets themselves and the ensemble nature of this type of theatre. The photos below give you an example: Although Banraku puppets are ordinarily carved in wood, we used cloth puppets - rag dolls essentially. Like their wooden counterparts they have a movable head and joints in the arms, legs, hands and feet to manipulate. It's alive! Each puppet requires 3 operators: one on the head and an arm, another on the lower torso and the other arm, and finally one on the feet. The person operating th

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Seven

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Seven... by Suzanne Kendall This week Maud met Ronnie Le Drew! It was time to bring our muppets out of the bag again and I was pleased to see Maud after my brief affair with bin bags and marionettes over the past couple of weeks! I think she was pleased to see me too, mind you she always has the same smiling eyes and facial expression! However, this week she'd have some more life breathed into her and I'd get to see how much more dynamic she could be... Ronnie Le Drew (see Week Two ) went around the room and briefly tried out everyone's muppets. He demonstrated how the look of the muppet could inform their voice and the way they moved - their character. He showed us various ways of 'walking'. He also taught us how to operate the muppet's mouth when it's 'speaking' - how to lip sync the muppet with our voices - we practiced this by counting. When we got to number 'sev-en' the muppet opens and closes it

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Six

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Six... by Suzanne Kendall Don't tell Maud (the muppet I made 3 weeks ago)... but today's class made her look a little unsophisticated! Hard to believe I know! And that is because we worked with marionettes - defined as puppets on strings. Rather complex little creatures.. The session was taken by Tinka Slavicek - a puppeteer and puppet maker. For more info about Tinka and classes she runs at Little Angel Theatre, see: And she brought some of her friends along too... After a demonstration on how some of the marionettes worked, we were lucky enough to spend an hour or so playing with them ourselves. I dashed straight to the more-or-less life-size marionette of the little girl, seen here in the top picture. Talk about jumping into the deep-end! She had a lot of strings and was quite complicated to use as well as being very heavy! My right arm was killing me after only a few minutes of trying to operate her

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Five

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Five... by Suzanne Kendall It was time to bin convention and let our imaginations out of the bag today. We re-visited some puppetry basics using - bin bags! You may remember my mentioning an exercise involving bin bags in week one - designed to make us appreciate the potential for life in ordinary objects and to stimulate our imaginations - to see a bin bag as something unique; to look beyond its conventional usage. Today we lay our bags out on the floor and simply sat with them for a while. We watched them when they were still and lifeless. And then we witnessed them come to life when we touched them - we watched them respond - they crinkled and wrinkled and moved. We then made a little 'hood' out of the bags by pinching a portion of the bag between our fingers. We suddenly had something that resembled a little 'creature' to play with. We experimented with the different ways our bin bag 'creatures' could move - slowly, qui

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Four

Playing Pinocchio! - Week Four... by Suzanne Kendall More muppet making today! It was hard to believe that 'Maud' could be improved upon - she was already a real beauty! For a more thorough introduction to Maud, see last week's blog post... but once a bag of felt scraps was introduced to the room, opened and buried into, I began to get some ideas...! I gave her eyes a flash of colour - a lovely, bright and seductive green. I gave her rosy cheeks and coloured in her lips so that she had more of a pout. Finally, I stuck on some eyebrows. Predictably, I accidentally stuck an eyebrow onto myself first - it attached itself to me with fresh, hot glue from the glue gun - ow! Those savage days in design and technology at school all came flooding back... a bit of a comedy act ensued with my jumping up and down and running round the room trying to remove the eyebrow from my blistering thumb with my fingers, only then of course to burn my fingers in the process! Needless to