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Evolution of an idea

Come with us on a visual journey, watching a new show grow from a seed.


The first step is Chuck Norris, the Dort’s pet bunny from Owl In Spotlight. This photo is Chuck in both his forms, big and small. Friends of ours came with their 2 year old daughter to see the show, and she was transfixed by Chuck. At one point in the show when he disappeared off stage, she said “Bye Rabbit!” and once she got home, she spent the next week carrying around a small toy rabbit that she was given at birth but had ignored since then. Clearly she was taken by Chuck. So I decided to knit her a Chuck Norris for Christmas. Then only problem was that neither Chucks had legs and I wanted the toy I knitted to have legs. So I asked people who had seen the show what they imagined Chuck’s legs to look like. The little girl’s father said that he’d envisioned them as long and paisley.

So that’s what I knitted.

When she grows up, I’ll explain to her that this was her dad’s fault.

We were gazing upon the finished paisley Chuck Norris and it occurred to us that it looked like he had bird legs. So I knitted another one, with super long legs in a good birdy orangey-yellow

His name is Aaron.

I had been knitting octopuses for friends and decided that since Aaron was a birdbunny, that I wanted to knit a guy with octopus tentacles and something else on top. Rob suggested a yak. So I knitted a yaktopus.
This is Steven.

By this stage, we had the idea for the new show titled Things That Shouldn’t Be. There are two more main characters, Tom the Penguphant, created while working with children at the zoo and almost finished (he just needs little penguin feet and he’ll be done) and Elise, the monkeyfish, based on the idea of the FeeGee mermaid. which I’ve knitted a prototype but we want the tail to be longer and more eel like for the finished guy.

So that’s the story. From puppet to present to weird idea that makes us smile to show.

S

So I’ve been thinking…

If you’re reading this post, feel free to answer any of these questions via the comments section…

I’ve been thinking about puppets out in the world. Who makes puppets? Who uses puppets? Where do they appear in the real world?

If you do a search on google images, you’ll get a bunch of photographs of teenage girls bent over in awkward positions with badly photoshoped strings coning from their wrists and ankles. Clearly puppets are a popular idea and being manipulated from outside resonates with artistic youth. But what else will you find? There’s tiny felt finger puppets with big stitching and at the other end there’s photos of beautifully created professional hand and mouth puppets. Who are the people making them? The puppets that you can find seem to fall into three categories – made for children by parents/ friends of their parents, puppet companies making their own guys and people claiming to be professional and offering to sell you their hand and mouth puppets.

Are these the only types of people that make puppets? And since type 2 and 3 can make their own puppets to use, is the only people buying puppets people who are buying gifts for children?

The 2 other types of puppet that appear over and over in a google search is a hand puppet of Angel from Buffy (and, erm, Angel) and Christian Ministry puppets. I haven’t seen the episode where Angel turns into a puppet but it was a great merchandising moment for Joss Wheadon, but I can’t help wondering that if the puppet hadn’t appeared in the show, would all those people out there simply buy puppets of Buffy, Angel, Spike and the rest of them? I have my doubts that they would have been so popular as the Angel one. The Christian Ministry puppets is an interesting one, although I can find lots of Christian Puppet Ministry sites out there, most of which include great resources to make your own puppets as well as buy ones premade, I can’t find anywhere a place that talks about WHY puppets are used in Christian Ministry.

I know that kids love puppets, I’ve seen that in my classroom as well as on tv. What I want to know is WHY children love puppets so much. For that matter, why do adults love puppetry as much as they seem to do? What is it about puppets that capture people’s imaginations and hearts?

That’s my current quest. To try and find these things out. Who is out there making puppets, apart from puppet companies and parents. Does anyone else make them? Who owns puppets? Again, is it just the companies and the families? A friend of mine went to Bali and bought me back some beautifully painted shadow puppets and another friend went to China and bought me back a dragon marionette, so people must be out there buying them, for decoration? For interior design? Does the general public have a use for puppets? And if so, what is it?

Lots and lots of questions to hunt out the answers for…

(S)

make an owl, be a part of the next Terrible Comfort show!

Come one, come all… Terrible Comfort is working on a puppet show for Halloween this year called Owl in Spotlight (How Dort Taught The House to Behave). It’s at the Carlton Courthouse, which is an old courthouse that’s been converted into a theatre but still retains all of it’s period features and multiple doors for Halloween this year!

The storyline is eight year old Dort and her family have finally moved into their new home but the house is not too happy about it. In fact, it wants them gone and does everything in its power to scare them away. Hideous ghouls and nightmarish monsters emerge from the houses dark shadows but they haven’t reckoned with Dort. A fully trained monstronaut, Dort isn’t having any nonsense from the house and, along with her pet bunny Chuck Norris, she sets out to investigate and teach the house some manners.

Owl in Spotlight (How Dort Taught The House to Behave), uses hand and finger puppetry, diorama, digital sound design and a walking tour in a spooky back stage exploration of the theatres. Designed as a Halloween event, How Dort Taught the House to Behave is appropriate for all ages and encourages the child in us all to find the courage to reason with our fears.

To help with the ambiance, we want owls scattered everywhere throughout the venue. This is where you come in!

Most of the sofites we’re making are around 20cms tall, so our preferences for owls would be around 10cm to 20cmsish. The bigger they get, the further away from the action they’ll have to be positioned to keep everything in perspective. The individual owls wont have credits next to them, but you will be credited in the program. People who contribute owls’ll get a free ticket to the show, if you can manage a couple of owls you get double passes. We’re happy to give them back at the end, but we’d love them as donations to Terrible Comfort. We’re hoping to tour our shows around the place and Dort will be one in our repertoire.

We happy for any kind of owl, how ever you want it to look, whatever material you want to make it out of and whatever position you want it to be in (flying, sitting, standing, other…) We need the owls by about the end of September.

To avoid theft, we encourage you to add a little material loop to the back of your owl, and we’ll then screw/sew the little guys down and maybe even put little bells on them. YAY!

Please let us know if you’re interested in participating in Owl in Spotlight. and do feel free to forward this to anyone you know who might be interested.

To see more of Terrible Comfort go to their website – http://www.terriblecomfort.com

Terrible Comfort. We make our own fun!

New ideas, new guys, new shows, new shoes

Ok, well, I lied about the shoes. But the rest is true.

We’ve started on our 2010 season. A remount of Everything, along with a brand new show, at La Mama mid year, and a Halloween show at the Courthouse at the appropriate time.

It’s an important skill, to be able to not only plan but start working on things from so far out. So while Rob writes I’m busy making guys.

I love sewing felt. Mainly because I don’t have to hem it. I currently handsew everything, because there’s not enough room to set up the sewing machine. Also, I’ve handsewn stuff all my life, I’ve only recently acquired a sewing machine, and I’m more used to picking up needle, thread and material wherever I’m sitting and just start. It seems like a hassle to set up the sewing machine to do just a bit of sewing. So thus, felt is a time saver and I love it.

Little tip for all you crafty types – Lincraft’s A4 sheets of felt is thin, weirdly stiff and way more expensive than Riot’s. So I’ve been hanging out in art stores. It’s a dangerous hangout place, it can get expensive.

But all of this is to say Ta Daa! There’s a sneak peek of a couple of the props from the Halloween show on our Flickr page. If you’re quick, you can see a couple of thumbnails to the side here. Check them out, they’re pretty damn ace!

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