Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Papers and Puppets

I'm posting before I start a paper I've been putting off for a bit that's due Friday. Basically, we're meant to present an outline (in 1,500 words) of how we plan to proceed as artists in our practice past graduation, and how we will prepare for that in terms of our research for our dissertation by stating what we will research, how and why. This work is also meant to contribute to our Practitioner Portfolio, wherein we talk a lot about a practitioner we like, how awesome they are, why they are awesome, and why someday we would like to be awesome like them, too. This paper would seem daunting--having to make a HUGE, almost blanket statement about "What I want to do as a grown-up artist and here is how I will do it" does seem a bit overwhelming--but it's really not. At the end of the brief, the following is stated:

"...Please note that we recognize that plans and research imperatives may change. You Scheme of Work does not commit you to following through exactly in the terms that you describe when you come to write up your portfolio..."

So: one could stress over writing 1,500 words, but since in the end one won't necessarily be held accountable for anything stated, surmised, or generally declared therein, one comes to care less. Which makes one feel more annoyed by the prospect of writing this paper than worried. Which, in turn, makes one procrastinate.

(My apologies for the "one"-ness of the last few sentences. I've been watching a lot of Jeeves and Wooster lately, and can only surmise that the source lies there.)

Last night, Ronnie Le Drew guest-lectured at my puppetry class. He came in to talk to us about marionettes, as well as his work on various projects in television, commercials, and film. At one point he mentioned having worked as Zippy in Rainbow, and everyone in the class let out excited gasps. I just stood there being American and not getting the reference. Rainbow is essentially a children's show with puppets, that seems to run in a similar vain to Captain Kangaroo, not quite Sesame Street, though I suspect meeting Ronnie for these folks would be akin to me meeting Caroll Spinney).

Ronnie has been a puppeteer his whole life since having knocked on the door of the Little Angel Theatre at 15, and I don't think there could be a better spokesperson for the lifestyle. He started by showing us some old footage of the Little Angel, then moved on to recent commercials he's done. Ronnie is especially gifted in working with marionette puppets, something he learned at Little Angel, and a rare commodity of specialization in the world of puppets today, where hand or rod puppets are most commonly seen. Below is some footage of Ronnie and a marionette he brought in, while he discusses operating it and his work on Animo, an Improbable show from a few years back (again: all roads lead back to Improbable).

Here's another video of Ronnie, talking about his audition for and working on Labyrinth. He introduced the topic by bringing out a beaver puppet (who had "lost" his tale). Having a beaver puppet myself, I took out my camera to catch the action. The reason this video starts with the sound of my raucous (and ridiculous) laughter is because the beaver saw me turning on my camera, became excited, and in full Muppet-like fashion (complete with flailing arms) squealed with excitement: "You're gonna take a PICTUUUURRRRRRREEEE???!!!"

No doubt, that little guy was cute, but fret not, Bobby: you shall always be the first in my heart.

We didn't do any hands-on yesterday, but it didn't matter--Ronnie was so entertaining and everyone loved hearing his stories. He'll be back next week, and we'll work with some marionettes then.

I'm going to end this entry quickly and abruptly--not because I'm dashing off to write a paper, but because I seem to have come down with a bit of a head cold, and I have to lie down before I fall over.


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