2014 National Puppetry Conference
Pre-Conference Intensives June 11-13, 2014
Main Conference June 14-22, 2014
An advanced Rod Puppet Movement workshop
“Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I like to feel something when I go to a performance. I want to be stirred and moved and thrilled by people and puppets who can do that. That is why I feel that training in acting is essential for this funny field.” –George Latshaw
Ronnie Burkett will be concentrating on interpretation/acting more than on writing in this workshop. Participants will work with Ronnie on how to present the best of artist-created work. You will explore the development of the piece from the text to a well-performed theatrical event.
Participants will need to send a sample of the intended work to be developed. Focus will be on projects already underway and participants will be selected based upon submissions which should include preliminary script drafts, outlines or storyboards, set and character designs, research notes and source material. No more than 5 pages. Limited to 8 participants. Photo courtesy of the Daisy Theatre.
The concept of the Wunderkammer is to develop the art form of string puppetry. Frank Soehnle, Alice Therese Gottschalk and Raphael Mürle regularly create shows which has the aim to improve the art form and discover new ways of performing and presenting.
Each day the participants would get a training of marionette manipulation based on the studies by Albrecht Roser, after that the participants would have the opportunity to develop scenes under the guidance of Frank Soehnle, Alice Therese Gottschalk und Raphael Mürle. A special point will be to develop group or ensemble pieces.
The string puppets, which are used are constructed by Frank Soehnle, Alice Therese Gottschalk and Raphael Mürle use techniques based on Albrecht Roser’s developments. There will be also the possibility to include scenes re-created with the marionettes made by the participants. Closely working together with music is very important for the vivid appearance of the puppets. Bradley Kemp will be creating improvisational music to perform to. We will also develop scenes based on the sentiments of poetry. Photo courtesy of Winfried Reinhard.
Phillip Huber & Jim Rose
Advanced Marionette Manipulation
GOAL: To de-mystify the process of marionette manipulation & performance.
These stringed figures are rightfully regarded as one of the most complex & difficult of puppetry forms. However, when they are approached with patience & an eye for the most simple & direct path of expression, they become graceful, poetic actors & entertainers… highly amplified extensions of their human manipulators.
DESCRIPTION: Using a series of carefully crafted exercises, Phillip Huber will instruct and guide participants through an intensive & advanced study of marionette manipulation, revealing the influencing factors of stringing, control, & marionette design. Special emphasis will be placed on “Cabaret Style” performance (short-strung marionettes). Participants will be taken through the process of developing & refining a brief marionette performance piece.
PARTICIPANT PREPARATION: Each participant MUST bring a marionette that they do not mind modifying (joints, stringing, controller) for the purpose of developing specific movements & character attitude. Bring 2 or 3 pieces of music (each 2.5 minutes or less) to use as background for the marionette performance. This music can be on CD or computer. It would be helpful to bring headphones & an iPod-type player for rehearsals. Please bring one black outfit for performance.
Marionette Design & Construction
Jim Rose offers a thorough examination of marionette design, layout, and construction methods for the creation of a new marionette. Participants will have the opportunity to build a complete marionette from a precut kit.
A Music Participant is given the unique opportunity to collaborate with puppetry artists as they create new works for the stage. As a music participant you will work with the artists and directors to help tell their story with music. You will be challenged with evoking the mood of scenes and characters from multiple pieces, ranging from playful to dark and haunted themes. Ideal candidates are composers with a strong performance and improvisation background and familiarity or willingness to experiment with different styles and genres of music. See Submission Info for more details.
Playwriting, especially where puppets are involved, is not an easy task. Nor should it be. A play is a delicately constructed world, newly born. Each day, we will create worlds using exercises designed to take away the need for divine inspiration, and replace it with concentrated effort. The rules of these worlds are unknowns and must be tested. As both creator and cosmologists of your own baby universe, you will delve deeply into terra incognita and explore. We will attempt to understand what it is that makes drama effective and affecting. We will attempt to apply this new knowledge into the creation of live performance with puppets.
This class is appropriate for those who are looking to develop existing stories, ONLY if they willing to abandon all the work they have done on the story to date. This is not a workshop to make your current project better, it is an effort to give you the skills that will help your story in the future. That said, there will be ample writing time and assignments that a writer with an existing project may find it a proper development opportunity. That is, if they have the guts.
Those puppeteers looking to investigate playwriting for the first time will find this a welcoming and productive introduction, as will those playwrights looking to incorporate the use of puppets in their drama. Pictured: Writing at the 2010 Conference. Photo by Richard Termine.
The Emerging Artists Strand identifies participants during each conference who appear to be at a critical juncture in their careers as puppet artists; a place in their lives where working intensely on a particular project or aspect of their work could lead to important breakthroughs. Those artists may apply to the program, describing in detail what their work during the conference is likely to be and how they will work with mentors in writing and directing, as well as other artists from the Conference staff as needed, to achieve their project goals. The Emerging Artists are given the option of showing the results of their work during the public performances that conclude the conference. Pictured: '100 Sandwiches' by Elizabeth Hara (2011 Emerging Artist). Photo by Richard Termine.
This role is for those who have attended the conference previously. Your focus for the main conference will be supporting the work of the Emerging Artists and the Artist in Residence to develop their projects by working under their direction for the majority of the Conference day. Resident Company Members will also be allowed create Participant Projects in the evening. While this role takes place during the main conference, you may also attend the pre-conference.
The first of a series of genre-crossing puppet productions linked around the theme of extraordinary women of Chinese history and legend, Hua Mulan: Half the Sky brings together an ensemble of American and Chinese puppet artists, Beijing Opera performers and musicians. The production will blend together masks, rod, shadow and hand puppetry, together with classic Chinese opera.
Given the circumscribed social situation for women in traditional Chinese culture and literature, Mulan’s story stands out as a inspiring model for gender equality. It has been adapted into literature, opera and film (it is even well known here in the West, thanks to the Disney animated feature.) CTW’s production will link the classical sources of the Mulan legend together with the 18th and 19th century opera and contemporary puppet theater. Woven into the structure of the narrative will be the stories of other female fighters of literary and historic note. Their lives intersect with on stage with Mulan’s, contrasting their charismatic heroism in battle with the mundane realities of deeply etched sexual stereotypes which faces them in civilian society.
Huan Mulan: Holding Half the Sky is conceived, written and directed by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, with puppetry and shadow designs by Mr. Kaplin and collaborating Chinese puppet artists. Shasha Li, an award-winning key puppeteer from the Shanghai City Puppet Theater, will be in residence with CTW for 4 months in the Spring/Summer of 2014, working with Mr. Kaplin on the design and construction of traditional style rod and shadow puppets and to help train CTW puppeteers in advanced rod puppetry manipulation technique. The company will include both Western and Chinese trained performers, puppeteers and musicians. The first public showing of the production is scheduled for late Fall, 2014 in New York City. Artwork courtesy of Chinese Theatre Works.
The Eye of Light: Object and Image in Shadow Theatre, Theory, and Practice
Shadow theatre is the oldest form of motion picture medium, with roots going back to the pre-historic dawn of human culture. In many parts of Asia, shadows are is a conduit for transmitting sacred stories and legends down through the generations-- a doorway between the spirit and the human world. Here in the 21st Century, shadow theater have absorbed the new tools for digital image generation, projection and animation. Yet though it often utilizes contemporary technology in live performance context, shadow theater remains deeply embedded in extremely simple and basic technical means.
The class is led by Stephen Kaplin, a leading American shadow artist and designer (with credits including award winning productions with Julie Taymor, Ping Chong, Lee Breuer, Peter Schumann, Great Small Works, Chinese Theatre Works, and many others). Drawing on 30 years of professional experience and study, Mr. Kaplin will explore a variety of topics central to the use of shadow in performance:
• The science and physical properties of light, its generation , manipulation and control.
• The architecture of light and shadow-- Transparence, refraction and reflection in materials.
• The shadow image in performance-- - A cultural overview of traditional and contemporary shadow theater.
• Techniques and processes for designing, building and manipulating shadow figures- with special focus on the overhead projector.
Sasha Li & Kuang-Yu Fong
Chinese Rod Puppetry: Movement and Technique
Traditional Chinese puppetry focuses on the linkages between puppeteer and the puppet, and between the puppet’s fluid choreography and the music. Chinese opera has greatly influenced the musical and movement vocabulary of the puppet stage, and parallels it closely in terms of repertoire and overall aesthetic language.
This workshop will explore the shared gestural language of rod puppetry and live Chinese opera and find ways that the stylized grammar of Chinese opera movement language (dance and pantomime) can shift in scale as it is translated between human body and puppet. The practical goal is not to learn to mimic traditional puppet choreography, but to help participants understand the mechanics and principles of the Chinese stage movement language and to devise practical methods of application of them that are useful to American puppeteers and lay foundations for a contemporary movement dialect.
It will be led by two women who are both deeply immersed in both contemporary and traditional Chinese puppetry and theater practice: Shasha Li-- award-winning key performer for the Shanghai Puppet Theatre; and Kuang-Yu Fong--whose training in classical Chinese opera has influenced all the theatrical productions she has created over her 30 year career in New York City, and in her work as director and performer with Chinese Theatre Works.
More to come soon – stay tuned!