I'm back from my many trips around the US..Ok really it's only two...and just Atlanta and Denver...but still, I'm home!
Puppetry Festival. wow. I can't even explain it (I can, that's a lie). It was a great festival. In some ways it exceeded Puppet Rampage (the last Puppeteers of America festival in 07) and in some ways it didn't. Overall it was great!
Highlights for me were the shows with excellent storytelling. This festival reiterated to me just how wonderful your storytelling needs to be. When you're in a dark room in a cozy chair and you're averaging 3-4 hours of sleep per night, and your days are very busy, the only thing that will keep you awake is fantastic storytelling. Pretty visuals, beautiful music, and wonderful manipulation are the things that help you drift off to sleep. A good story with good pacing will keep your eyes open.
To the puppeteers of the world: Please surround yourself with good storytelling abilities. Take improv workshops, take creative writing classes, watch good plays and puppet shows, entertain yourself. If you feel you have to stretch something, don't. Stretching for time can often lead to the SNL effect. Think about it. SNL has one punchline that they carry out about 2 minutes longer than they should. Make your point and move on. If you add material, that's okay--but add quality material that will keep me wanting to keep my eyes open. Don't be afraid of using a director. Tighten and strengthen your show by eliminating scenes that don't get you to your goal (whether that be revealing character or plot). Good story can cover a multitude of puppetry sins. It has for me.
I'll try to remember to write more about the festival in detail when I can. I'm still suffering from Post Festival Exhaustion.