Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Back On the Road - and the Street!

Lots has happened since last we updated... including this!

We'll be creating videos as we travel around the world (technology permitting), so keep checking back as the tour progresses. Be sure to also check out the official USO blog for pictures and performance updates as well as the opportunity to check out all the other amazing stuff they do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Great News!!!

Hey There! It's David...I know I haven't personally been updating this blog as much as I could be lately (my dad reminds me of that fact almost every time we talk...ha!) but I have some exciting news to share that I hope will more than make up for it...

I've just been cast as Princeton/Rod in the Tour of Avenue Q!

Rehearsals will start late Oct. or early Nov. with the first show of the season opening in Japan in Dec. Once January hits, we'll be on our way back to the States to cross the country. There may even be a few Canada dates, eh. As of right now, I don't have a definitive schedule, but you can bet I'll be posting as I find out more information.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Uke Gotta See This!

In addition to creating puppet videos, we also travel with a ukulele. Its amazing what a little jam session can do to perk up the room... but adding puppets makes it even more so!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We Played in Peoria!

Another round of footage yet unseen to the world is from an excursion we had way back in February - in Peoria, IL. In the theatre world, Peoria has always found itself to be the butt of many a joke (dating back to Vaudeville!), but this adventure took us on a journey through the cosmos...

Recognized as the "largest complete 'to-scale' model of the Milky Way" by the Guinness Book of World Records, this solar system is no small-scale diorama! Spanning over forty miles from the sun to Pluto (yes - I still consider it a planet, Scientists!), this model accurately represents both size and distance of the planets and lesser space bodies.
With limited time to explore, we made it all the way to Uranus before having to call it a day. I have been sitting on this footage for several months trying to figure out what to do with it, and recently found some inspiration after contacting the creator of the exhibit, Sheldon Schafer. Over the next several weeks we will also be visiting Huntsville, AL (home of the infamous Space Camp) and Houston, TX (where they deal with problems).

Hopefully we'll be able to have some more space-themed adventures in the near future... As you can see from the picture below, we're ready!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Puppets Are Muggles, Too!

Hello virtual community!

Recently we were given a three week break from traveling with the monkey, which allowed me time to go through hours of footage we've accumulated over the past few months. I'm happy to say that some of it is usable!

Right before our break, we were able to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Due to the high volume of muggles trying to partake in the magical atmosphere, Yancy wasn't able to see too much of the streets of Hogsmeade, or the halls of Hogwarts... but we were able to have a quick chat with the Conductor of the infamous Hogwarts Express!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Exit Row: A New Puppet Heap Web Series

If you haven't heard of it yet, check this out:

It's a new web series called Exit Row, created by the folks over at Puppet Heap. We've been following their work since we started building puppets, and recently Kyle even worked with many of their gang at the O'Neill. They are an inspirational group of designers, builders, puppeteers and all-around puppet geniuses who also happen to be a very helpful group of guys and gals. They've been there to answer questions, give guidance, and even a tour or two when Kyle stopped by their place outside NYC a while back.

What's funny about this series is that a few months ago, we started drawing faces on air plane barf bags, both as a cute little joke, and a way to advertise for free. Here's a example of a couple of those little guys:

The caption we leave reads some variation of this: "Sorry you don't feel so hot. Too bad, this would have made a great puppet." And then we add our web address.

It's cool to see how creative minds can take a similar idea and run with it. Hope you enjoy their series.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Our Latest Dirty Habit...

Our newest creation was commissioned by FantasyLand Theatricals out of Orlando, FL. I was contacted a while back regarding the possibility of building them a puppet for their upcoming productions of "Nunsense!" and "Nunsense A-Men!" After much discussion, we concluded that this design would be a departure from the traditional Sister Mary Annette - and more toward a saucier, edgier, sexier nun... And thus my ticket to Hell was purchased.

As women of the cloister seldom expose themselves, we were able to let our imaginations wander beneath the habit. After the initial jokes were made, I realized I would soon have to create breasts for a lady of the lord... Now, I know it sounds juvenile and shallow, but there have been a few past projects where I have avoided anatomy for fear of not doing them justice. However, I am proud to say that I have conquered that challenge and am quite proud of what I created!

So if you happen to be in the Orlando area, check out "Nunsense" and/or "Nunsense A-Men!" opening this week at the Pointe!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Fishin' for new Puppet Pics?

I must admit, for a while here on tour, it seemed that Kyle and I were lugging around huge suitcases filled with puppet supplies for nothing...

As we've stated before, building on the road can become very difficult without sufficient time and room to spread things out. It often depends on how long we're in a city, what time commitments we have for the show, and a big one...if there is a place to use contact cement since we have to use it outside.

The past couple weeks though, we're feeling good! Despite an abundance of storms here in Florida, the rain has stopped at all the right gluing moments. We've also had a couple full weeks in large rooms, and Kyle came back with a big boost of creative energy after the O'Neil...all of this in time for a few custom builds.

I took on this one:

I call her Pearl...originally I thought she was a Lolli, but I take it back.

And this is Brutus...originally Brutus. Both fish are for excellent magician and friend, Jason Hudy who has recently decided to incorporate puppetry into his work.

You can see I went for a more raw, fish-scaly look with the combination of reticulated foam and acrylic paint.

Right before I had left for tour I built a fish in the same style, very similar to the same basic shape as Brutus here. I really loved the bright colors I could find in the acrylic paint and had always wanted to give this method a shot. The original fish turned out well, but I learned back then what I should do for the next time...

See, I had tried to paint the foam after the main shapes were completely glued, which is not really the best way to get the paint on evenly. Now in my defense, I was using a head that had been made over a year prior to it's last minute conversion into the body of a fish, but I learned. This time around, I cut the foam shapes out, but before contact cementing I took the paint and went at it like a kindergarten art class project...skipping the paint brush and just pressing it into the foam with my hands, essentially dying it with the paint. By painting before gluing, I cut the build time by AT LEAST half...pumping these two puppets out faster than I've ever created any ONE puppet (at least that I've liked).

Dyeing, you say? So why not dye the foam to begin with, with actual rit dye?

Well to answer the question I'm pretending that you just asked: Because we don't want the room charges for staining the hotel bathtubs. And because the colors really pop with some of the acrylic paints I've found. Rit dye is definitely a future venture for us, but I'm glad to have tried it this way too.

Note: If it's something you plan to do yourself in the future, just keep in mind, there will be a stiffness to your puppet that you wont have with rit dye. It actually adds a certain solidity to the character if you use it to your advantage.

Friday, June 25, 2010

O'Neill Withdrawal...

Having recently returned from the 2010 O'Neill Puppetry Conference, my mind is racing with inspiration from being surrounded by so many creatively ambitious souls. Without knowing I was missing it, it was nice to be welcomed home!

The atmosphere surrounding the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center is a constant buzz of potential, powered by people and resources beyond measure. They are dedicated to the art of producing new art - and they are damn good at it. There is a reason they earned the Regional Tony Award this year!

The Puppetry Conference, headed by Artistic Director (and resident Muppeteer) Pam Arciero, strives to provide the nurturing and challenging lead-by-example approach to the world of puppetry arts, aiming for every student to exit
the conference having created something that didn't exist
previously. In addition to conjuring new work, the conference is about creating a community of artists - and this particular aspect blew me away. Never before have I born witness to - much less been a part of - such a raw source of life-giving spirits. Puppeteers are (by their very nature) artists who give life to the world around them and can see beyond the surface to the inborn potential below. I feel honored to be a part of their world and can not wait to see what else is in store.
Our time spent at the O'Neill was only twelve days in the real world, but with everything we managed to pack into every nook and cranny of time it felt like months. We were suspended in a bubble ready to burst at any moment - and when the moment came where we all went our separate ways, that bubble could no longer be contained. So now we find ourselves back in the real world cleansed and renewed by this giant bubble, and ready to take it all on.
After a week of giving life to the inanimate, the real world seems so full of possibilities!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

BALTIMORE: Rich In Culture - Poe In Spirit

A few weeks ago we took in the sights around Baltimore including an Orioles game at Camden Yards, enjoying the tourist-laden Inner Harbor (which included witnessing a street performer unexpectedly stabbed by his volunteer - don't worry, he is ok), visiting the Curious George exhibit at Port Discovery, and absorbing the city's rich history by visiting Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum!

Jeff Jerome, member of the Poe Society and curator of the House & Museum, graciously invited us into Poe's former residence at 203 Amity Street. Over the course of the afternoon we had a fantastic time with Mr. Jerome as he enlightened us about the house and Poe's ties to Baltimore. Not only did we learn a great deal about this famed author, but we made a friend as well.

Mr. Jerome was an amazingly knowledgeable host and his passion is evident. We couldn't have asked for a better experience! As a performer, he was unbelievably easy to work with and even offered his own thoughts on what would make for good video material.

As you can tell, we can't say enough about how pleasant an experience we had that day. As if that weren't enough, I'm nearly done editing the video, so soon we'll be able to share that with you as well... but in the meantime, enjoy the pictures!