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Archive for Old Shows

Musing on the show now it’s done

Owl in Spotlight – Salem Witch Trial

So the show went well. We had a ball doing Owl in Spotlight, and we learnt a bunch of things. One thing that we were exploring with this show was making a puppet show for all ages. It wasn’t a kid show, specifically for kids with little to no adult interest (as I envision (but don’t know) that something like The Wiggles are) but instead we tried to make a show that everyone could watch. We advertised it as an all ages show and waited (a little nervously) to see what would happen. We thought the content was fine for children, but we were hoping the kids and parents thought so too!

We did have a mainly adult audience. Kids came, not in droves, but they did come, with parents in tow. We had a special offer that if you came in costume you got a discount. Only the kids turned up in costume. We had witches, wizards, vampires and a zombie with bleeding bullet holes in his head. Much more gruesome than the show’s content! The night the zombie came I knew that our show was fine.

We had two sets of school groups in on different nights, each wanted a 10 min Q&A session after the show. The first group were a year 9 drama class. They asked us questions such as “what was your inspiration for the show?”, “How long did it take you to make all the puppets?”, “How long did you rehearse for?” and that kind of question. We discovered that we answer questions in an entertaining but overly long fashion. We need to learn to be more succinct. But they had some great questions that really got us thinking.

The second class was a high school literacy class. They had different kinds of questions. “Which is your favourite puppet and why?”, “How did you write the play?” which we also found interesting, but for different reasons. The drama class wanted to know about the performance, the show and the nuts and bolts of how we put it together. Which makes sense, since that’s what they’re learning in school. The lit class were more interested in the story and the words. Again, sensible, and interesting to note. Different people come to the show to watch different things.

So the show is down and the puppets are stored away, but it’s nice to know that the Owl legacy lives on. Our youngest audience member, a tiny 3 year old girl, was dreadfully cute during the show. She was very quiet almost the whole time, bar when something was creeping up on our heroine, Dort, from behind (a tiny “oh no!”) and whenever Chuck Norris was on stage (“babbit!”). Her mother tells us that she’s now obsessed with rabbits and carries a toy one constantly around with her, one that has previously been totally ignored her entire, short life. We were very touched. Her parents are also trying to teach her how to say “Chuck Norris”, however they report that they are still a way off.




So we’re halfway through the run of the show and we’re learning a lot as we go. We’ve found that we’ve inadvertently rediscovered a number of old types of puppetry that arn’t used so much anymore.

So, here is the official list of the types of puppets and puppetry used in the show:

Mainly it’s Tabletop Puppetry (where the puppets are all small and the stage is a, you guessed it, table top. In fact, our stage is an heirloom card table) with a little Toy Puppetry mixed in.

The puppets themselves are Marottes (static shapes on rods) mixed with Object manipulation puppetry
and then there are a couple of examples of Caricature puppets (where they look like specific people (well, Kevin Rudd wouldn’t take our calls)), Mouth puppets (the guys that can open and close their mouths) and Finger puppets. Then, for added affect, there’s fire, glitter, bubbles and desk lamps. This show, it’s got it all!

Theatrical spectacular, in miniature puppet form.

And damn pretty to boot.


Review for Everything Will Be Ok

In Everything Will Be Okay Sayraphim Lothian joins Robert Reid to perform a sixty minute show of tabletop puppetry. The performance is the surreal conception of Reid, artistic director of Melbourne’s Theatre in Decay.

As I entered the theatre for the performance, the usher advised that I should, “Listen with my eyes, and see with my ears.” I’m still not exactly sure what that means, however I can say that the visual experience of the show is very pleasing. An interesting combination of pre-recorded voiceovers, Thom Yorke style sounds, numerous kitsch props and meticulous timing, Everything Will Be Okay is a unique and engaging production.

While the visual aspects of the show are superb, the story itself is somewhat difficult. The plot follows an expatriate Australian named Doug who lands in Peru where he joins a political revolutionary group. While Doug struggles to understand the existential type dilemmas his life is full of, his girlfriend is humorously psychoanalyzed by a fat cat in sunglasses. Fractured narrative is tricky in film and literature, and even more so in theatre where the audience needs significant markers to follow the story. Reid acknowledges this fact and does attempt to give a sense to the disjunction; however I still found myself confused at times.

The show is however very funny, poking fun at Kevin Rudd and various pop culture phenomena. The size of the audience and proximity to the puppets makes for an intimate setting where you feel performed to rather than performed at. At the end of the hour I came away thinking that Everything Will Be Okay is unlike anything else you’re likely to catch at this year’s Fringe.

by Regan Brantley

Bring on Opening night…

So, last night was preview and it went pretty damn well. There was an audience of 6, and for a show that only seats 12, that’s pretty damn good.

The biggest thing for me was that last night was my first ever night performing. I come from a visual arts background, and although I’ve worked on a number of theatre shows, it’s only ever been making props or puppets, running around backstage, that sort of thing. I’ve never wanted to be an actor, never wanted to be a performer of any kind. I’ve only performed once with puppets (weird, I know, for someone who’s so keen on making them) and that was to a friendly, tiny audience after a puppeteering class.

Never having really been on stage, I’ve always had stage fright at the very thought of doing it. So when Rob suggested that we would do the puppeteering, that was a little nerve racking. And the first couple of rehearsals were worry-causing, as I moved Doug here and the moon there, I wondered how the hell I was ever going to remember all of it, let alone do it competently.

But last night was surprisingly good. We set up, costumed up, turned off the house lights (the normal, every day lights for those not in the Know) and on with the theatre lights and started our pre-show pattern. People filled in, and I wasn’t a bit nervous. It helped, I think, that 4 out of the 6 people were friends, but the two people I didn’t know didn’t faze me. I knew what I was doing, I knew what needed to be done next, and if I didn’t we have a running sheet which reminds us. I was confidant, and it was, as the title of the show suggests, all Ok.

I think having a recorded soundtrack really helps. One, I’m not actually doing the voices, which would be a whole other layer of complication, plus there’s only two of us and although Rob’s pretty good at accents, I’m not. In fact, when we first met, about 9 years ago, I could only do one. And it was a Drunken English Pirate. Quite specific, I grant you, but it was the only one I’d worked out. Now a days, with much more exposure to theatre guys, accents, telly and the like, I’m a little better at a couple, but nowhere near good enough to pull off half the roles in a puppet show. The other reason I’m a fan of recorded soundtracks is that it ensures that every night it’s going to be exactly the same. The music will dip and soar as it did every time in rehearsal, the voices will come in at exactly the same time every night and say exactly the same thing. This makes it much smoother and easier for all involved. It also makes the pressure on the actors less. Instead of having to commit to 6 weeks of rehearsals and then a 2 or 3 week run, we asked them to turn up to Josh’s place one Saturday afternoon and we recorded the whole lot in a couple of hours. Go Josh!

I was listening to a random but well known comedian on the radio the other day, and he was saying that after performing, he gets this huge buzz and can’t sleep, especially on good nights. And it’s the tradition in New York after opening night on broadway that they go to a cafe and drink champaign, waiting for the reviews to be published in the morning. Armed with this knowledge, I did wonder what it would be like once we’d taken our final bows.

So last night, we finished, and they applauded and we started packing up as they started filling out. There was a few who hung around, including one of the women we didn’t know, and talked about the show for a while, and then we continued packed up. Packing up takes about half an hour, so I had time to think. It had been a huge day, I’d opened an exhibition I’ve curated earlier in the night (Echo’s Lost, in the front window of Circa Vintage Store, 102 Gertrude St, Fitzroy) and then we’d gone on to preview Everything. I was glad it had gone so well, and glad that the audience liked it. I was interested in the feedback, that the plot was actually followable (we had been less than certain on that point) and that they felt it was magical. I was glad we’d made something so beautiful, and was super glad it had worked like we’d hoped. But I wasn’t over the moon, or on a high or anything else. I was pleased but tired, like after a nice day at the beach (but, you know, without the sunburn or the sand in your knickers) and I just wanted to go home.

On Broadway they celebrate with bottles of champaign, bunches of flowers and staying out all night long. We drove home, stopping at the Sev to buy a icecream, and went to bed.

Rockstars we may not be, but gosh darn it, we make a good show.

Everything Will Be Ok
Details on Melbourne Fringe website


Fringe minus one and a half weeks and counting

Fliers are floating, fringe guide appearing in cafes and hip book stores, thoughts of funky “in fringe office” performance abandoned for now (maybe once we’re running and everyone’s less stressed – no one needs the weirdos chucking glitter around the office while a hundred angry fringers call to complain about ticketing systems…)

Computer back up and running now and sound editing back on the go. Blocking done. Lighting plot still to do. Final edits to sound to be mixed down to tape.

Props, well, one or two still to do, but mostly done.

Still gotta film the thing to watch from without. Maybe next week. you know, when it’s too late to make changes… nah, it’s never too late to make changes.

Terrible comfort recommends TMTP’s Attract/Repel btw. haven’t seen it but know the guys involved and expecting great things. and now, back to editing. by god that wind. and how balmy is it? what happened to winter?


Should be researching…

So this is why people say a blog is a distraction…

anything that encouraged the use of two ellipsis’ before you’ve used twenty words is certainly that.

Everything Will Be Okay (our fringe show) is now mixed down and ready to play. There’ll be some editing before it goes to tape i think. Need to add the sound of the train in to scene three – need to make sure each scene gives enough time to shift the props around (or isn’t too long and leaves the audience watching static junk for too long.)

Front of house at the venue, 45 Downstairs, we found out Wednesday night is a founder of Handspan… GREAT!, cause it’s not easy to misinterpret what we’re doing as a puppet show at all…

I wasn’t really gonna get into explaining this stuff, i was just gonna let folk who see it figure it out for themselves. But since it’s so close to puppetry (and yes does use some of the elements of puppetry or at least object manipulation to animate it) i might as well clarify now before we start getting head scratching audience members and fringe judges wondering what the hell we think we’re doing.

I don’t have a name for it. It’s not really about saying “This is a That” or “it’s all a brand new WOW’ you know. I wanna save all the show biz crap for when I’m getting paid. This thing is about beauty, transformation and installation. Don’t think of it as a performance and you should be fine. It’s a half hour happening. A weird little break in the madness of fringe where it doesn’t matter what form it is, just that it’s pretty.

Now when folk ask I’ll just send them to the blog and say I’ve already explained this at Handmade by Computers.

And with that enigmatic rant, it’s back to reading old press.


2.30 am magic

Sound track and vocals mixed for three new scenes for Everything Will Be Okay tonight while the rest of the world sleeps.  Mighty useful thing this insomnia sometimes.   That’s half the sound track down and about seven tenths of the props made.

Lighting is gonna be the trick on this version.  Rehearsals are stymied without the right lights and for lack of rehearsal space… such a small show, how hard can it be to rehearse in a kitchen?

But the first few scenes look darn pretty and we have some nifty new lamps to try out tonight.

There will doubtless be more of this recorded as we get closer to fringe.  Quite an interesting experiment so far though.  Part puppetry, a bit living sculpture.  Learnt lots already that can be put into practice down the track.

Looking forward to the rushes.


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