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Archive for Owl in Spotlight

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.



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.


Owl in Spotlight – How Dort taught the house to behave

Here it is, all the info for our Halloween show, Owl in Spotlight!

a Terrible Comfort production

Designed and created by Terrible Comfort
Voiced by Peter Houghton

Dort and her family finally move into their dream home but not everyone is happy about it.
When her parents disappear and the House does its best to scare her off, Dort and her pet rabbit Chuck Norris, face some of the scariest, strangest nightmares that are let loose and roaming free.

A Halloween show suitable for all ages
Discount for audience who come in Halloween costumes

Part of La Mama Theatre’s 2010 Spring Season

Wed, Sun 6:30pm | Thu, Fri, Sat 8:00pm
Tickets $25 Full or $15 Concession
Bookings 039 347 6142 or via http://www.lamama.com.au

La Mama Courthouse
349 Drummond Street Carlton

Come along, we’d love to see you there!

When TV imitates life

From American Dad, “The Magnificient Steven”

You boys see these owls?
Get out of here, owls!
Stop pecking at my face!
I will not buy your encyclopedias!
I can’t read your language, I can only speak it!
Whoot, whoot! Whoot whoooot!

sitting in a room being surrounded by owls all silently staring can do funny things to a person…

Hand puppets

Monster Puppet

Originally uploaded by Jaz Harold

So I’ve gotten to a point in the making of Owl In Spotlight that I need to make a couple of hand puppets. We’ve got a number of finger puppets in the style of the guys I’ve been making for Dave’s Vlogs (you can see them at our flickr page here) and now I’m onto the hand puppets.

But I’ve got a problem. Although I like the idea of the hand puppets to tower over the finger puppets, I’m not a fan of the way conventional finger puppets bunch across their bellies when you put their hands together. I’m also not a fan of the “hands up!” look that most hand puppets have, which stems from the placement of fingers on the human hand., Damn evolution.

So I went to have a look on Flickr for other ways to do the ol’ handpuppet idea.

After wading through quite a number of not-great puppets and a couple that were awesome but not right for this project, I came across this guy, which is sort of a mix between a conventional hand puppet and the hand and rod puppets that I’ve built in the past. It’s a simple and beautiful way to make a puppet, although it does require two hands, unlike the conventional hand puppet which only needs one. Because the show is big and we only have two puppeteers, how many hands each puppet takes is certainly needs to be take into account.

THe other type I found which I haven’t seen before is this one

Squirrel Hand Puppet

Originally uploaded by Handmade Goodies

The pointer finger holds up the head, the thumb and third finger are the arms but in an intriguing twist, the ring and pinky arn’t hidden but left on display. A little odd but kinda elegant, the puppet isn’t all lumpy to accommodate the hidden fingers. Not sure how this kind of puppet looks while being performed, but certainly a different idea for creating a hand puppet.

Eco-Friendly Handcrafted Hand Puppet

Originally uploaded by Uptown Puppets

There was also this guy, who is a little Muppet like for my tastes but a great design. It’s basically the monster puppet above but without the rods to use the arms. So the arms’d just dangle there, unless manipulated by the puppeteer’s other hand, which I worry would look a little clunky due to the size difference in the skinny arm and the puppeteer’s hand, plus it goes back to my original problem of the puppet being then a two handed puppet to manipulate rather than a single hander.

So I’m not sure any of those have solved my problem, but it’s always good to go outside and see what other people are doing and how they solve the problems we all encounter…


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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