Welcome to the Vault

snake-s-door-knocker-1202994Over the years I’ve written an awful lot of words. The words themselves have been fine: the problems have usually occurred with the selection and arrangement of the words.

I’ve end up with fragments of stories, novels and plays; poems I almost like and some I hate less than others. I keep coming across some of these as I sort through old papers and files. A few pieces are downright disgusting and will never appear anywhere, but there are others I quite like despite the flaws. It is this last group I am going to put into the Vault: they will be available but not promoted or pushed. Available for anyone who wants to creak the door open and take a look at mildly misshapen things.

That’s enough sales patter. I’ve opened the Vault and put something in. It’s a jeux d’esprit, a trifle, a middle-earth bauble. Whether you read it is entirely up to you.

Death comes for the Little Bear

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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.

Oh, oh, living in a field

Yup, living and posting in a very wet Warwickshire field. I’m sitting in a failing tent under persistent rain at Catalyst Festival at the Warwickshire Showground at Stoneleigh. I’m running my lines for Stringless Puppet Theatre’s last appearance at the Blaze children’s meeting.

We’ll have done three slots overall, each one an episode from the life of Peter. Today we are doing Peter’s escape from prison.