New Pre-Festival Feature: Two-Day Intensive Workshops, July 17-18
These special workshops, which take place Monday July 17 and Tuesday July 18, are separate from the regular festival workshops and entail an additional fee. They are presented by leading American puppet artists and allow the participant to explore a topic in more depth. Ed and Ines Bass, Greg Ballora, Alex Griffith, Sea Beast Puppetry.
Creating Puppet Theater from Social Testimony: How to Give Voice to a Story of Personal Injustice
Eric and Shoshana Bass, Sandglass Theater, Vermont
This workshop takes participants through the process of gathering community stories through a story circle exercise, developed by John O’Neal in the Free Southern Theater during the civil rights movement. The stories we tell will become the materials for exploring the potential of puppets to embody these stories and the choices we have to give the stories voice. The focus of the workshop addresses how we can tell the story of someone else without “playing” that role, and without appropriating that culture. So the process looks at song, at the actor/puppet relationship, and at simultaneous scenes, among other techniques, to explore what makes the puppet a special medium for evoking testimony. Participants will work with Sandglass’ exercise puppets from day one, and with any objects or raw materials that seem appropriate on day two. Wear comfortable clothing in which you can move. There are no materials fees for this workshop and no pre-requisite skills necessary.
Eric Bass and Ines Zeller Bass co-founded Sandglass Theater in 1982 in Munich, Germany, and moved to Vermont in 1986. In addition to creating over 20 productions for Sandglass, they have collaborated with companies in Cambodia, Poland, and El Salvador, on work that has addressed social issues in those countries. Since 2012, they have been touring the US and Europe with D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks, a piece about people with Dementia. They are currently at work on Babylon, a piece about refugees. Sandglass has won six UNIMA Citations of Excellence, several international awards, and, in 2010, the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Eric and Ines teach a two-week intensive each August in Putney, Vermont. Sandglass is also a member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters.
Instant Shadows Pop up Puppet Show: A Hands on Exploration in Production Development from Inception Through Performance.
Kat Pleviak, Mary Kate Jenkins, and Jill Frederickson of Sea Beast Puppet Company, Illinois
Instant Shadows Pop-Up Puppet Show is a kamikaze mission in puppetry development, design, and performance. Participants will conceive, design, build, rehearse, and perform an original shadow show in a performance open to the public. These pieces will be short in length, most under or around 5 minutes and will be featured in a puppet slam at the conclusion of the class. This class is ideal for students who want to experience creating a piece from start to finish.
We are using shadow puppetry to teach this class so participants will learn how to make a variety of types of shadow puppets that could be used against a screen, in overhead projection, or in full-body shadow work. We will also cover, and have for your use, a variety of light sources, screens, and building materials.
However, despite all the shadow puppet knowledge and experience that will be offered in this class, the real purpose is project development. Professional artists need to be able to make confident decisions, see the big picture, have the ability to create a piece within their means and most importantly, see projects through to the end. This class was constructed for those that want to learn and hone these skills. Our hope is that you leave with a performance piece you can mount again, and the tools and confidence to make many more. This class is for people of all skill levels as each person will be able to work at their own pace.
We ask that participants bring what they can of the following items: Laptops, tablets, MP3 players, headphones, flash drives, x-acto knives and replacement blades, craft scissors, cutting mat and pliers. We will have some of all of these items but not enough for the whole class.
Founded in 2009, by Artistic Director Kat Pleviak, Sea Beast Puppet Company is know as being a leader in puppetry excellence in the Chicagoland Area. Over the past 5 years, Sea Beast has created a variety of original touring productions for both adult and youth audiences alike. Some of these productions include Surf and Turf, Hans My Hedgehog, Little Red Rosie and the Dragon of Dümm, The History of Light, The Shadow Puppet Conspiracy and Méfe-Vous de la Vache-Garou. Besides their touring shows, Sea Beast offers workshops to students of all ages and professional development classes in the areas of puppetry performance, design, construction, and writing. When they aren’t teaching or performing, Sea Beast is dedicated to presenting other puppet artists to the Chicagoland area through the curating of their puppet slam “Puppet Meltdown”. Most recently, Sea Beast was regularly featured at the Field Museum performing at the “Dozin’ with the Dinos” sleepover events and teaching shadow puppet improv in Atlanta, at the Center for Puppetry Arts.
Crafting Puppet Films
Alex U. Griffin, California
Crafting Puppet Films will dive into the world of filmmaking – for puppets! In this workshop intensive, we will create a puppet short film. In doing so, we’ll go through all the steps necessary – storyboards, shot listing, overheads, scheduling, lighting, filming, editing…and the final product!
Each subject will be looked at through the viewpoint of puppetry on film, and each person will get a copy of our finished product. Participants are asked to come with a basic understanding of cameras, lenses, and their workings. I will provide a “starter kit” PDF for everyone involved with the workshop. Email correspondence in advance will help secure what kind of puppets we use (found object, table-top, hand and rod, etc.), and the specificities of the script. I look forward to making a puppet film with you all!
Alex U. Griffin is a cinematographer, puppeteer, and director based out of Los Angeles, CA. He holds a MFA in Film Production, and has been active in the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference and Puppeteers of America. His goal is to create dynamic collaborations and turn every moment into a possibility for storytelling. Alex works extensively with puppetry in all regards, and has worked on everything from digital shorts to feature films. Most recently, he completed cinematography work on the all-puppet feature film, Yamsong: March of the Hollows, and is curating Reel Puppetry: Craft on the Silver Screen for the PofA National Festival.
Building a Hand & Rod Puppet that WORKS!
Greg Ballora, California
Many puppeteers are held back, not because their puppetry is weak, but because the puppet is literally fighting them. Well it is time to win that battle with knowledge!
Participants will work from an established pattern to create a very workable “Hand & Rod” style puppet. We will talk about materials and techniques. But more importantly, we will discuss the principles of why the pattern works and how to put it together to be durable and flexible. We will also explore how building a good puppet leads to better movement and manipulation. Along with creating this basic level puppet, we will look at what some of the next steps are for the aspiring puppet builder, from body styles to arm rod options. The focus here is not on building the greatest new puppet art piece, but to build a really solid puppet that will help you improve your puppetry, especially for the camera.
Participants are encouraged to bring materials that inspire them, particularly fur cloth or eye choices with which they want to experiment. This workshop is suited to the beginner who is not afraid to pick up a drill or thread a needle, but also includes techniques that will be of interest to the intermediate puppet builder who has a few characters under their belt.
For more than 25 years, Greg has been a Los Angeles-based puppet builder and performer. He has puppeteered with the Muppets, Henson’s Puppet Up!, and was the Puppet Captain on Disney’s Crash and Bernstein. On film, Greg was a lead marionettist for Team America: World Police and part of the core Doc Ock performance crew on Spiderman II. Greg has also been a Puppet Master at the Disneyland Resort, where he has built puppets, trained puppeteers, taught students and created parade choreography for puppets and large floats. Greg spent 15 years performing with Jim Gamble Puppet Productions, as well as building puppets with Jim and directing his video projects.
Greg has taught puppet construction and performance at UCLA, Pepperdine University, Penn State and Cal Arts.