I just came back from 6 days at the Puppeteers of America Puppet Festival.
The Puppet Festival was AWESOME, OMG! I can't believe all that we saw and
did. In has energized me ( I may NEVER retire!), and will take our
puppeteering to a whole new level. Harrison (a sophomore in my high school
and my head puppeteer) and I have designed our new show for next year, and
we ain't your regular puppeteers no more. We saw the best of the best in the
world, and more surprisingly to us, these master craftsmen/women stayed in
the same dorms as we did, went to the same classes we did, and when they
weren't performing they went to the same performances we did. They were very
accesible to everyone, and even came up to Harrison to congratulate him for
being a scholarship winner and welcoming him into the puppet arts. One thing
the festival did do for us was to verify that we are on the right track with
how we are growing, and given us purpose and direction. The festival
resonated with my love for theater, and showed us many ways that we can
bring theater into what we do, and take it past our vaudvillian efforts.
While we now recognize that we were going in that direction, we realize that
we had been tailoring our shows to the 4 minute Teen Arts Format, and thus
limited what we could do. While we will never get to the 30 minutes + stage
(because we know our immediate audiences couldn't sustain that) we will push
up to 15-20 minutes with a narrative, and a strong ending. What I have been
doing with the puppet club was honing their skills and I think they are
ready for the next step. We plan to make a video of our next show and put it
up on youtube, and also use it for Harrison's portfolio for college. While
we were there we found out that most professional puppeteers can be broken
into three camps, puppeteering for children's parties/schools, puppeteering
for adult conventions/parties, or art puppeteering for audiences who
actually Go to a puppet theater. While we have been thrust occasionally into
children's work, we now realize that is not our focus, and we don't feel
guilty about that anymore. And to that end, we both took workshops (we had
to presign up for them, so I think we instinctively knew that we had to move
on) that will let us focus on the art/theater element. I learned to cast
heads by making silicone molds, and Harrison learned how to make a table top
bunraku puppet (it is awesome), and to cast in plaster molds. We weren't
allowed to take pictures or to take videos during the festival, but here is
a link that shows you some of what we saw. http://www.pbc-productions.com/.
Click on Puppet Rampage, I think there are 6 little videos.
I know I have just been to something very magical, and that Harrison's life
will never be the same.