Monday, July 28, 2008

8 posts worth of posting.

So the few of you that check in on me every now and again are probably sick of seeing the same bit about the silly rhinos. Sorry about that. And then again, who am I writing for, you or me? Probably more me, otherwise I wouldn't do it. But hey, at least when I get the bug in me to write, I give you a week's worth of reading.

On the puppetry front I went to PuppetFest Midwest and made the most amazing puppet I've ever made. Keep in mind that I have had a child. The child did not have yellow eyes and I did not use The Ultimate non-toxic contact cement to make him. I took Nick Barone's workshop. Yay for that whole shin-dig! Very patient and willing to put up with attention-loving kids like me. I'll post photos soon. I haven't quite finished his arms. I'm afraid I was too eager to slap them on and sewed one to the body a bit early (before I finished the 2nd one--bad call). So I've realized the fallacy in this and now I'm kind-of sad to take the other arm off, fearing that I'll leave a big-ole frasty mark on his side. I'm very impatient. I need to get over that.

The workshop was only half of the loveliness that was Puppetfest Midwest. I also got to know quite a few amazing puppeteers. Can I be thrilled that this is what I do? I make friggin puppets and I work at a friggin puppet theater. I meet and get to talk with heroes of puppetry. I do shows for grown-ups and I'm basically doing what I wanted to do when I was 5. Nobody grows up and does what they wanted to do when they were 5. If you challenge me then you are a liar. You didn't want to grow up and be a grown-up. When you were 5 you wanted to be a Snork and you know it.

So while at the festival I had forgotten that I signed up for something called Bits & Pieces. Its a late night show that's basically an open-mic night. I had brought a handful of finger puppets (only because they were in my sewing bag) & I grabbed a pig & a hamburger before I left--very last minute, too--just in case I wanted to sign up once I got there. I saw my name on the list when I arrived & freaked out a little. I hadn't prepared a darn thing. Nick was in charge of the evening performances & wouldn't take my name off of the list. Thankfully I had wonderful people in my life (Thank you Drew Allison) who made sure I had 3 glasses of wine in about 30 minutes before I went on. I don't drink terribly often. Drew was, by the way, the first person to actually get me drunk. Enabler. So because I had prepared nothing, I knew I'd be improvising.

A word on improvisational theater. (Yes, I spelled theater with an ER, not RE--eat it.) Doing a show with multiple people is one thing. The fewer people you have in your show, the more "on" you need to be. A two-person show is intimidating to me. It can be for a lot of people. In fact, I'd say it is for a lot of people. You just have to be flat out on top of your game. I had no other experienced improvisers upon whom I could force to perform with me. I have never before done a one-person improv show. I had no one to bounce ideas off of but my forced-split-personality self.

I also have never done a solo puppet show. Also an intimidating thing for me. I'm sure most puppeteers are completely comfortable with such an idea. But if my ship is sinking, I want someone to hug on the way down.

So I mustered up my gut (aka Drunkie McDrunkicide) and went on with just me, two hand puppets and a fist-full of finger puppets. The suggestion was singing sausage. I do longform, by the way, so it was one continual scene and nothing jokey-gamey-gimmicky. I honestly think I did a very good job with it! I had many, many compliments post-show. People laughed about when I thought they should, and I had fun (which is the ultimate importance). I'm sure it was a mixture of "hey I think she's funny" and "hey look at Drunkie." But even that bit of a mixture is okay with me. Causes me to really want to kick some Bits & Pieces tuchus if I'm able to go next year.

I came back to a busy Crafty Burrito week & even more puppetry. Last weekend I participated in the 48-hour Film Challenge, sponsored by IFP & the Phoenix Film Festival. We were 2 hours late turning in our film due to some technical problems. Ah well. we had a lot of fun making it. We used paper puppets. Something I'd never done before & thought it would be easier than it was, and then it ended up being easier than I'd been making it after lots of failed attempts at both moving eyes & mouths from flat paper. I didn't have too many materials or tools available to me and we made more than 20 puppets for the 3 minute film. I mean, that alone we should be proud of. We'll screen it on Thursday for a $10 a ticket. That's right, it's a STEAL!

I have a puppet slam coming up next weekend. For anyone in the area who wishes to go, its $8 if you call & pay in advance & $10 at the door.It should prove to be an okay slam. Its called the Sweaty Butt Puppet Slam. Being in Phoenix, I can attest to the sweaty buttification. I've not finished writing our piece yet. bad, isn't it? I suppose I'm just not married to the idea, so its hard to get behind it. I feel like maybe the premise has been over-done & will cause the show to be predictable, which automatically makes things boring--for me. And with all of the creative juices flowing out of me so much in such a short amount of time (festival followed by 48 hour challenge), it's just difficult to make myself write something that I can't get fully behind. I feel some sort of creative stifleifity going on and I'm not a fan. Boo.

I'm hoping that getting back into Etsy a bit can cure that. I haven't made anything new (excepting a head of lettuce at the festival which someone wanted to buy before I cut the final thread--that was a nice feeling.) But I have been listing some things I'd already made. I actually sold 4 things just this week, so that's really exciting. One being Gloria, my zombie. One of those things that I question whether or not I'm making puppets the "right way" and rethinking how much my labor is worth when I employ only a certain set of skills. (I actually went back and changed that sentence from using the 2nd person (You question, you're making, your labor, etc) and decided to own those gross feelings as my own.) Anyway, just being in a general funk. Everyone goes there, and it's not a bad place to be's just a place. So anyway, I'm hopefully coming out of that funk. I'm hoping once swim lessons are over in the child-boy's life, that I can get back to making things hard. I can't see it not happening.

(The photo is of a puppet I made for an awesome kid named Elliott who designed the puppet all by his lonesome.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

PuppetFest Midwest Tomorrow!

I leave tomorrow bright and early for PuppetFest Midwest in Trenton, Missouri! I was awarded a scholarship & I plan to use it to the fullest! This festival sneaked up on me. ("Sneaked up" doesn't sound correct..but really it is.) I think I was so excited about the release of the video this week (Yesterday it was a feature story on yahoo! YAY!) that I completely forgot about packing. So today is all about getting my ducks in a row before I leave!

Things I doubt you care about: Swim lessons with the boy-child are going well. If I were a newspaper I'd say something about them going swimmingly. Which causes me to ask why newspapers are still using puns after at least 100 years of readers groaning at them in agony.

He also got into the school we were hoping for! He'll actually be in the kindergarten classroom this year. They stay there until they're about age 7 because it's a hippie-school. How hippie you ask? The 3rd graders are in charge of taking care of the farm animals. They encourage the kids to jump off of the swings, catch frogs, and climb trees. (As long as the tree doesn't bear fruit.) They keep the same teacher from the 1st-8th grade. They spend a lot of time outside while they learn. They all learn to play instruments & paint. They make stilts, learn how to felt, and put on plays. What's even cooler? Puppetry is huge at this school! HUZZAH! (That's a dork's way of saying amen.)

This is where I preach:
Encouraging children to move while they learn and using music to teach math, and art to teach science, and dance to teach language causes children to learn effectively. It's well-rounded and it makes learning far more fun than sitting at a desk. Stupid desks.

Preaching done. Look at a picture of rhinos to flush your brain.