On Set and Reset
June 11, 2017
We started the new week at the Puppet Kitchen by shipping off the puppets for The Little Mermaid to St. Louis. As they made their way to the Midwest, the shop reset itself for more projects to come. I spent the beginning of the week cleaning up, restocking supplies, and moving extra materials to storage.
With a newly squeaky clean shop, we were ready to tackle new projects. My fellow apprentice Sophia and I were given a large Muppet-y puppet to finish the detailing on. This particular purple monster is to be donated to a local children’s hospital. We were charged with sewing on its facial features: two green horns, its fuzzy nose, and a set of 3D printed eyes. I focused on the eyes, sanding down the small ridges left over from the printing process, painting them, and affixing two pupils (also 3D printed). I was very at home on this project. I previously worked with 3D printed materials with the Academic Technologies Studio and the theatre department at Cornell so I knew how the material was going to react to sandpaper and a dremmel.
On Wednesday I had the opportunity to go to a commercial shoot with Chef Michael and Eric. They had created puppets and were going to puppeteer them for the project as well. I went along to learn a little about puppet wrangling and how a film crew works. Eric was the lead puppeteer for the shoot, so Micheal was my main mentor for the day. He talked me through how to be the support network for the puppeteer and puppets – a wrangler. He explained how to watch the monitors as they filmed to catch any quirks or issues with the puppet that the puppeteer and director wouldn’t notice. I switched out different puppets between shots and went on sunscreen and water runs when necessary. It was an exciting but long day. It was at times difficult, but reminded me of the experiential learning I’ve done at school on theatre productions.
I killed the humpday blues this week by seeing my second musical here in New York. Earnest Shackleton Loves Me was a time travel rock opera love story between a modern day video game composer and the early 20th century Antarctic explorer Earnest Shackleton. I scored a $25 ticket to this Off Broadway production, and got every penny’s worth in the performances I saw. The leading woman wailed on her electric violin and vocal chords and the leading man created several different nuanced characters with help of a green screen backstage. It was an incredibly enjoyable night of theatre and reminded me why I love musicals. The audience gave a mid-show standing ovation after a particularly killer song and I felt a sympathetic rush of adrenaline for those actors on stage giving every inch of their performing ability.
Sometimes it takes a really great performance to reset your internal compass. Although this week was at times slow and tiring, I was reinvigorated by my favorite medium this week and I look forward to what may come in the next weeks.
Amanda is a theatre fabrication major from Scio, Oregon.