Monday, November 13, 2006

Important puppet news

Wherein that's a hand up my ass and I'm happy to see you

Rudoph and Santa:
Presumed lost or destroyed for over 30 years, the two original stop-motion puppets from the 1964 Rankin/Bass TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are making a stop at the Center for Puppetry Arts Museum for four weeks only, December 8, 2006 – January 7, 2007.

Charlotte's Web.
Playing through December 3, this is a beautiful full-stage production. Wilbur grows larger, geese fly, and people walk the stage. Charlotte's web glows in the dark and when she writes the messages that save Wilbur's life, it's quite specatular. The fair is recreated with a ferris wheel and fireworks are projected on the side walls. Templeton is less hostile than in the book, but Charlotte's death isn't glossed over and the sadness is poignantly captured.

One of the better productions I've seen--puppets or no puppets--and I recommend it. The staging is rod puppets in front of a wall of light:
Five skilled puppeteers work together very closely to bring the
puppet characters in Charlotte’s Web to life. Dressed in black
from head to toe, the puppeteers remain in the shadows while
manipulating their puppets in the lighted playing areas. This
approach is commonly known as Czech Black technique as
it originated in the Czech Republic of Eastern Europe. The
puppets in this show are controlled by a mechanism in back
of their heads that the puppeteers use to make the characters
turn their heads, look up and down and focus on objects and
other characters. The puppeteers use their own hands as
the puppets’ hands so that they can easily pick up and grip
props throughout the show. Another type of puppet used in
the show are shadow puppets. These silhouette cut-outs are
performed on overhead projectors and projected onto a screen.
Shadow puppets appear much larger on the screen than they
actually are. Character voices are all performed live by the
cast. Each puppeteer wears a cordless microphone to amplify
her/his voice.


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