Day 2! New Challenges: It’s like Project Runway for Puppets!
Today, we did technical drawings of our puppets. This means that, on a sheet of paper, we draw a life-size/real-size rendering of the puppet. The head, on paper, will be how it is carved. The eyes. The distance between the top of the mouth and the chin. We also draw in the kinds of joints we will use, and a front and side view of both the body, and the hands (or one hand, at least). Everything is done by measuring to exact centimeter and millimeter-based detail.
Because of this, most of the drawing is best done standing up, and while it’s effective, it causes intense physical exhaustion.
No, It Can’t Have A Volcano Made of Hair and Long, Sideways Horns And A Disco Ball For a Head
Volcano Head from Power Rangers
Then, there are things to consider. My character, as you may be able to see in an image below, has horns. Those horns can be an issue because if they’re too wide, the head becomes heavy, leading to all sorts of complicated problems. The horns can also catch the strings that move the legs, thus leaving the character to do a suspended moonwalk 90% of the time.
Originally, my horns were wider, and I was going to design the puppet on a string-base instead of a wire. I find that we cover about five or six ways of doing one thing – there are, for example, three main ways to create a neck. And whether or not the puppet is ‘on a wire’ (like the traditional marionettes with a rod coming out of their head) can change how it moves. If the puppet is head-heavy, then it being on a string creates lots of potential problems. BUT Mirek is very helpful in his suggestions. During the process, I was constantly reminded of Project Runway – when Tim Gunn says, “Make it work!” We have to work with the challenges and obstacles presented to make the best, most well-crafted puppet for our needs and the puppet in its design.
Tim Gunn, not Mirek, but in my head, they’re one and the same sometimes.
From there, we trace over and copy the head, body, and leg shapes onto paper that we cut out, so that the shapes are like weird little Halloween decorations. These are then used to carve blocks of wood into the right general cuts, which we then carve into PEOPLE/PUPPETS!
My First Puppet Show In Prague
This looks nothing like what I saw tonight!
Today in class we went to see a performance by students studying at a summer theatre program at DAMU. It was a lot of fun – their puppets were very different from ours, not marionettes, but puppets with legs and cloth bodies. I took some photos of them, as well – don’t worry, my aghast theatre friends, it was allowed! Apparently DAMU, the drama school of Prague, offers summer intensive courses (that cost money) and this was like their final.
It was a half-hour adaptation of “uh, shall I call it, The Famous Scottish Play,” which amused me and I appreciated so much. I love a good theatre superstition. The only downside to calling Macbeth, that is that many people in our group are foreigners, and I don’t think that everyone realized which play the professor meant – I learned this after talking with one of my friends/workshop-mates, who didn’t realize it was supposed to be Macbeth.
One cool thing was one classmate, named Fairouze, designed costumes for the puppets. I met her today and she will formally join the class tomorrow, so that’ll be neat.
Pictures! And Upcoming Adventures!
A puppet in one of Mirek’s other workshops!
I don’t have photos of carving yet – that is what we are doing tomorrow. And I don’t have my technical drawing pictures uploaded yet, but will soon.
In the mean time, here are some pictures of the workshop, and some drawings, and my classmates!
Puppets made by Mirek, for sale!
- An odd puppet carved by Mirek
A close-up of my sketch
The workshop cat!
Everyone working diligently!
My artistic sketch of my puppet
Marionette joints, arms, and legs!
Photo 2 of Workshop – See all the puppets?
Photo 3 of Workshop
Photo 4 of Workshop
These are some buildings near where I am staying.
Puppets made by Mirek, for sale!
For those interested in the structure of my course, I have class from 9 am to 6 pm, with a break at 1 or 2 for lunch. There is a lecture, sometimes a visiting speaker, and then in the afternoon we work.
Tomorrow evening we are going to see a movement and physical based theatre performance by the Novy Cirkus, or the New Circus company, which combines puppetry in a more modern way, along with movement. I’m very interested in it. It reminds me a bit of “extreme action choreography,” and I found out that the main character in the show is performed by an actor who is in a wheelchair. As someone who thinks our lives should be reflected on stage, I wish that all sorts of people were in shows more – not because it is odd or to fetishize them, but because I don’t think there is enough support, and roles, and industry discussion, on including those with handicaps/challenges/human bodies of many kinds. The show is called RISK.
Tomorrow we are also supposed to go visit a woman, whose name escapes me, who is very famous for having a gigantic puppet collection. This will be very exciting!
Check back in the next few days for more photos!