Monday, November 30, 2009

A "Barrel" of Gratitude

In the midst of a hectic week of shows fell the holiday that reminds us how distant we've become from our families...

Being on the road, we were forced to go commercial for our celebration - thus we attended the illustrious Cracker Barrel in Southaven, MS. As a last minute decision, I grabbed some felt, Fabri-Tac, and Yancy to come along for the ride. Within half-an-hour Yancy had a new outfit, and an entire restaurant gawked at how rude it seemed to be to have a puppet at the Thanksgiving dinner table!

Forgive the lack of editing and obvious "puppeteers arm", there was not nearly enough room to get a nice angle. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Meaningful Weekend to Come

This may not be about puppets, but I have to share.

This weekend I'll be traveling home for a drama club reunion. The school finally passed a levy that allows for a much needed new high school to be built. This means that they are tearing down a beautiful old theater with generations of memories from shows that changed the lives of so many people, not just high school students, but community theater actors and small touring troupes too. This is the stage responsible for Kyle and I meeting in a community theater production of Oliver...Heck, even a young Tom Hanks came through while working for a small theater company years before anyone knew his name.

The biggest disappointment though, is the generation of thespians who signed their names on the green room walls upon initiation into troupe #946. To any visitor, the hundreds or maybe even thousand+ names would look like graffiti meant to deface school property, but to us the names mean an enormous amount of commitment to arguably the best organization that town has to offer. I think I learned more about myself and about professionalism within those walls, than I have learned anywhere else.

I worked with people there that put a ridiculous amount of energy and passion into creating art together... something I've missed about performing anywhere since. We might have been a poor Ohio high school, but some of the most professional artists I've ever worked with were right there on that stage, too busy battling puberty and high school hormones to notice how good they really were.

This weekend is the last chance 40+ years will have to visit their old stomping ground before it is knocked down and the new space is built up. It will be the last time for us to touch the walls (and ceilings in my case) where we proudly painted our names. It will be the last time to visit the prop room and catwalk where we snuck away with girlfriends and boyfriends. It will be the last time to climb up on the roof, or up through the secret hole in the ceiling... so many memories were shared there, so many lines, so many laughs hang in the auditorium air.

It's hard to believe it will actually be gone.

I'm so thankful there will be a new one in it's place though, so that generations to come wont miss out on the same kinds of experiences that changed our lives. It's a horror that theaters everywhere across the country, especially high schools, are forced to be abandoned because of budget cuts. I can't remember a thing about any of my gen-ed classes in high school, but I can remember performing in that space years before high school in community theater...The Sound of Music was my first show ever. I remember 60+ performances (if you count band, choir, and orchestra) that shaped who I am today and for a town with a fast dying economy- even before the recession- I can't imagine life without that theater.

While I'm excited to see what the new school will look like, I'm not sure what it will be like to visit once there's nothing to call my own. The only part of the building that will be left is the oldest, which cannot be torn down since it is considered a Historical Landmark having been built in the 1800s as the "First Chartered High School West of the Allegheny Mountains". Of course this was the part of school I tried hardest to avoid as it was where I had most of my English classes, so it doesn't mean as much. Perhaps it will now.

I'll always have a strong sense of pride for that school. I have so much to be thankful for because of it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Little Piggy Caught Swine Flu

Happy Swine Flu Season!

In commemoration of all of my friends who have been blessed with H1N1 in the past few months, I have made this little piggy friend. Kyle was fortunate to get it at the beginning of the summer, and recently my friend Jordan (Kate Monster performer in the review show I just did) was hit by the same flu bug (err...pig) the day of opening night, causing her to miss the whole run of the show. Now that she is over Swine Flu- and without ever having gotten to perform Kate Monster in front of an audience after working so hard for a month to learn it- I figured I'd give her something to remember the show by.

"Flu" the swine as Jordan now calls him, is the first puppet in my new GOAL for the next few months. This may be a bit more ambitious than time will allow, but I'm going to try to post a puppet each week until an undetermined time that will be determined as soon as the determining time can be determined.... My goal is - at least - to make it through Christmas and into January before my GRADUATING semester of school starts.

First, I'm going to start by physically completing past projects that were put on the back burner. These are mainly puppets I created for practice or for my own collection. This is not only to save time (because that's definitely part of it, what with a conservatory schedule that sucks about 20 hours from my life everyday) but to find that sense of completion for my own projects. A lot of times as artists, it's easy to put our own projects off, in order to complete what other's have commissioned us to do, or we let work or school dictate our lives...

Well, school's almost over. I'm on my last year and provided it all goes as planned, graduation is getting closer than ever and it will be time to start searching for a way to pay back loans. This is the other reason for setting the goal. After a couple emails back and forth with Sean over at Swazzle, he made the good point that I should build up my portfolio now if I want to look for work as a builder after school instead of waiting tables. It was essentially - and indirectly - his idea for "Puppet-A-Week" as I'll now call it, so that when I'm ready to apply for build jobs after school, I have something to show for myself.

Here's hoping time and I become besties.

The End! hah.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Some days are diamonds...

Kansas City has been a really cool place. The city is a vibrant example of a place that really cares about their image and cares about the arts. Crossing the campus of the Art Institute of Kansas City, we were surprised to see a tree with doors, which is an obvious invitation for exploration. Opening the creaking wooden doors we found a set of oil pastels and a notebook mounted within. Not one to argue with an opportunity to play, my friends and I took turns adding a bit of ourselves into the tree. Although this post has nothing to do with puppets, it was a refreshing example of how inspiration is everywhere.

I hope all is well!