A Christmas Garland – 3: 27 December 2014

She took the gift of world-redeeming boy
and sought Elizabeth and Zechariah
(now six months dumb because of angels ire).
Her cousin’s infant prophet leapt for joy,
within her womb his gift had found employ
as ripples of the spirit stirred his fire.
The quickening made Elizabeth enquire:
what was this that her baby could enjoy?

How much did Mary understand that day,
the rending implications of her part?
Had she a hint of her messiah’s way,
of how the spirit’s gift would hurt her heart?
Would she have made the identical decision
if she had known the outcome of submission?


Death comes for the Little Bear

Death comes for the little bear

OK, so he isn’t actually death, and he didn’t come for the Little Bear. But he could have.

Yup, I’m just back from another fascinating puppetry workshop by Rene Baker at Northern Stage. Over the course of two days we looked at how to explore an object or puppet to discover its innate characteristics, (using among other things the twin mechanisms of epistemic and ludic play), and how to bring it to life with its actions and – almost more important – reactions.

There was a moment on the first day as I was manhandling a curious puppet of brushes (one of Rene’s wonderful creations) that I thought ‘why am I a grown man with a job doing this?’ But, I parked that thought from the grumpy part of my mind and got on with playing. Because it is the playing which brings knowledge of the puppet or object, and without that knowledge our animation is shallow and/or unconvincing.

Over the two days we came to know the puppets moved and behaved, whether large floppy dog, unsavoury wood-man (surely an original ent), a flight of plastic ducks or a little bear. It turns out even pens want to behave in certain ways, and bunches of keys can be strangely attracted to ducks.

I am going to have to spend some time with my notes and my ducks to really grasp how this can all impact my practice and projects.

Overall, a exhausting, brain-mashing, wonderful two days. And if death had come for the Little Bear I think we would all have cried our eyes out.

Einstein’s banana

Another cracking improv session with Magic If last night at Live Theatre. Two hours of head-stretching learning and story-telling. Together we found the truth about Einstein and his pickled banana, Florence Nightingale and her sledge hammer, and Justin Timberlake and his swan – a very touching tale. We also learned to keep it in the box, which is more important and difficult than it sounds.