Tag Archives: Puppets

Miss Piggy’s MTM Fantasy Sequence: Stop the Adorableness!

Oh Miss Piggy… do you ever stop fantasizing and imagining how perfect your life is?

No, of course you don’t. And why would you, when you are so good at it?

Miss Piggy’s dream sequence in Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) is really superb in the level of fantasy that she creates. It is so excellent that it made her, (and all of her friends), look younger than they’d every looked before – or since! This dream sequence introduced us to the wonderful Muppet Babies, who, for many fans of the Muppets were the first real, lasting introduction to our felted friends.

It is surprising to realize that there is a sort of generation gap between the fans who watched early Sesame Street and the Muppet Show in real time with those who began their watching with Muppet Babies – but it is true and very interesting to me. I think it can somewhat explain how fans who go to the trouble of ranking their favourite Muppet films, (as I do) choose as they do. What you most connect with and what is your entry point into the Muppets can leave a lasting impression that you might not even register consciously.

TMTM-MuppetBabies

When the Muppet Babies first appeared, I was not particularly enamoured of them. I felt they were a bit of a ploy to sell merchandise and I was actually worried that it would mean I’d see less of my beloved muppet friends. Over the years, however, this particular dream sequence has grown on me, for a number of reasons. The performances are great, the puppets are adorable and when I consider what it must have taken to manipulate the smaller puppets, I am even more impressed. Plus, there’s the inside jokes of Kermit riding a tricycle in prep for his later bicycle exploits, Piggy starting life with little purple gloves and Rowlf playing with a stuffed Big Bird.

The sequence also doesn’t age, which in and of itself is kinda funny, but it really doesn’t and it shows how Piggy, (and her writers and handlers), chose wisely in writing and structuring the sequence. They look great, they sound great and the sentiment has stood the test of time – Piggy certainly seems like she will always Love Kermit. She has definitely fulfilled the Movie Star portion of that lyrical promise!

Watch it, and enjoy!

Podcast #16 Post Avenue Q debrief on the 401

After a MUCH too long hiatus, we are back with a reflective podcast on the production of Avenue Q that Matt and Ceris saw in Toronto. Don’t worry, Matt was on the recording controls so Ceris could focus on the drive.

Listen in, and comment on our plans for the future as the team hopes to not be away from the airwaves quite so long!

 

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PuppetFest @ The Palace

Tonight was our first foray into a puppet centric event at The Palace Theatre here in London, Ontario.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a great time. So many lovely people came to the theatre to make a puppet and to watch puppetry on our big screen. It was a really special evening.

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I know the youngest person there was 3, and with some assistance, she made 2 puppets. I’m not going to guess the top age of our guests, but I know we had folks of every category in the theatre and I know that everyone there was definitely young at heart.

There was a young man there, who was so very intent on his creations. He made his own stuff, no matter what. And no matter what, all of his stuff was inspired by Jim Henson’s creations. This young man hasn’t made it to double digits in age yet, but he knows all the shows that Henson ever created, all the guest stars and the performers who are behind, (or underneath) our famous felt friends. He regularly visits fan sites and I watched him draw a Kermit and Piggy and turn them into wonderful shadow puppets within 10 minutes and then perform them against our walls of the lobby. He stayed to enjoy our screening of Being Elmo and was thrilled to watch the show. His mother saw a lot of her son in the explanation of Kevin Clash’s determination to create. I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. This young man will create something wonderful in his lifetime and it will have been largely inspired by the work of Jim Henson.

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Another guest happened to be a designer for the new video game of My Muppet Show. It was great to meet him and share with him some of my enjoyment of his creation. He painstakingly worked on his puppet creation and had come prepared with more materials as he knew exactly what he wanted to make – just like our determined fan above. If you’ve not seen his work yet on this great app – then pull out your smart phone and start playing. It’s a great fun, free app!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-muppets-show/id618376844?mt=8

We only have two more nights of our celebration of puppets, and I sincerely hope that we are financially successful enough to put together something similar next year. It is quite clear that the fans are out there. And I was so honoured to meet them.

It’s been a while… and what a while it has been!

So it has been a while….

It has been an intense Spring and early Summer with all the shows and projects and while it is supposed to calm down in the summertime and I generally look forward to that – it really hasn’t happened this time around.

To kick off the season we decided to spend some time in New York City. I registered for the Broadway Teachers Workshop and we visited with friends from the Art of Combat Workshop. It was a super time with lots of shows and lots of exploring the city. We did have a little dampener on the whole trip when our car broke down on the way to New York and for some strange reason New York mechanics could not (even given a full week) figure out what was wrong with it to repair it. (More on that later – details and such)

We saw some great shows including: Once, Peter and the Starcather, Pippin and Alan Cumming in Macbeth. We explored a number of Muppet related locations in the city and that was delightful. Also, we met with some friends from toughpigs.com and it was pretty cool to meet those folks in person – next time we will have to plan for a longer visit!

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After making it home (that was an adventure with the car) I had a short, but lovely trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake with my Mum to see more shows. Still an adventure, but a lovely time.  This was after another puppet building workshop at The Palace Theatre, which was another great time with more lovely monsters coming into the world!

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And now… I’m deep in the process of building puppets for the City of London. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about the project at this time, but I’m sure they’ll be making a scene around town seen enough, so you won’t have to wait too long to see what they are about.

And next week, I’m off to the Puppeteers of America Festival in Philadelphia. I’ve never been there – and I really hope that my car makes it there and back with no troubles this time. It’s going to be an intense, busy and exciting week. I just hope that I can take it all in and savour the experiences.

It’s been anything but a slow, sedate summer. But what are you gonna do? Take what life brings and make the most of it all, right? I know I’m certainly lucky to have all these experiences, so I’m taking it all in and savouring it. It goes by fast.

 

Podcast #12 with Special Guests The Lovers The Dreamers and You!

We are happy to be back behind the mic and talking inspiration, creativity and spare time (or lack thereof).  We chat about where we’ve been, what we’ve been doing and how we’ve been keeping ourselves creative these past couple of months.

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The Joy of Accomplishment – yours AND others.

So, the final show in my long list of shows has opened. Avenue Q had it’s first preview on Thursday and Opening on Friday.  It was great. Really, truly great. The performers have worked so hard and paid so much attention to the details of puppet manipulation. They developed such strong characters and worked diligently to find ways to let the puppet be the star. It isn’t an easy thing for a performer to do – have you ever thought of that? A piece of felt on your hand needs to get all the attention and applause and adoration that you would normally get. The thing is, once they got the hang of giving the puppet the focus, the overal performances improved exponentially. There has to be a lesson in there, somewhere. Something about relinquishing control, or giving over to a higher power, or letting the show be more important than you are… I’m sure there are several lessons in there. I’m just glad they learned them.

I’m not too proud to admit that at certain points in the show, I well up. Not because the story is so moving, but because the puppetry is so moving. These performers picked up felt and fur only a few weeks ago and we spent time working on manipulation, eye focus, lip sync, character, breath, gravity and all of that sort of stuff that makes a piece of fur on your hand suddenly seem to come alive. Also, we had the great privilege of having a guest come to one of their final rehearsals to offer some pearls of wisdom – did you ever watch Fraggle Rock? Zoboomafoo? Well then, you know that the guest we had was someone of influence with these young actors. They took his words to heart. As I always do – and I hope he gets the chance to see what they’ve accomplished. It’s pretty miraculous.

If you get a chance…. go see it. Be prepared to well up… if you know how hard it is to learn to puppeteer. Or not, just well up cause it’s good. And worth it. Go.
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The end of one… the overlap of the other!

This winter/spring has been intense. Intense with work and commitments all over the place. It’s funny how that can happen – the fall was empty and almost dull and the next season was incredibly packed. So packed in fact that was never any moment when only one project was on my plate.

January began with Sullivan & Gilbert, auditions, first rehearsals and all of those trials and tribulations. If you’ve been following this blog, then you will have read some of those stories. At the same time was Little Mermaid with OKTC, auditions, rehearsals and the show – all between January and March Break – INTENSE. And, if that were not enough, at the same time was Under Milk Wood. My commitment there was a little less intense, but it was another commitment that resolved at the beginning of March – my report to the board and the finishing up of all the finances took a little longer, but that was due to other commitments and my prioritization of them.

So in March, you’d think that life became easier, but no….. Auditions for Avenue Q, rehearsals, and such for that have been ongoing and I’ve been attending as often as possible, which is less than I’d like. With the end of Little Mermaid came the preparations for our Fringe Production: [They Fight!]. That just ended last weekend and we’ve already got a revival planned for July 3rd. Very busy and very challenging, but also very, very fun! If you missed it during the Fringe, I invite you to join us.

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All this while teaching and trying to maintain any of my own personal projects that I’d like to continue. For example, I’ve not drawn a thing, in months. I’m looking forward to getting out the sketch book again this summer and seeing what I can create, even if it is just for me. Maybe I’ll share a few with you folks.

Balance is off somewhere in this plan. It wasn’t really my plan, but I did go along with it. It’s been a great ride, let me tell you, but I’m definitely looking forward to the opening of Avenue Q and the summer where I can be a spectator, if only for a few months.

Poster Avenue Q

Why everyone needs a workshop… at least I do.

What do you make? What is your creative outlet? Do you sew, knit, sculpt, paint, saw, hammer, garden, cook? Whatever you do, it takes tools, right? Probably lots of them and you need a place to store and sort those tools, don’t you? I know I do.

I make puppets. I sew. I try to draw and sketch. I’d like to paint and write more. But the space I need is a space for the puppet supplies and the tools and then a space to store the puppets when they are done.

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My husband makes cannons. Yes, you read that right. He makes cannons. And yes, they work. They work for stage – they are safe cannons, they are light cannons, they are quite portable cannons, but nonetheless, they are cannons. He needs space and tools and storage for this.

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Now, we are lucky. We have an almost century home with a partially finished basement. One entire room in this basement is dedicated to swords, guns and other weapons worthy of stage and screen because that is what my husband does. He trains others in how to stage convincing fights, battles, and death scenes. It’s great fun and the room is wonderful. It is almost always in a constant state of chaos due to the amount of projects he pursues  but it is still a wonderful space. He has another room where he can repair these items and lots of tools for building things. All of his tools actually have a home in this space – although it seems to me that they rarely, if ever, are in these homes. They constantly live in other rooms in my house as he doesn’t have a space to build these creations.

I have a Muppet/Puppet room. The idea is for it to be my office space and one day another space in the house (when finished) will be wear all the sewing supplies will live and I will then create in that space. But for right now I have a room with books about puppets and theatre and dance and music and my computer and my sewing machine and my fabrics and foam and googly eyes and feathers all reside. There’s a daybed in this room – and when it’s clear, the cat likes to sleep there. So, it’s kinda the cat’s room too.

Willow and friends

What I don’t have is a table to cut on, to pattern on, to design on, to lay out fabrics and imagine new creations. The closest I’ve got is my dining room table. And that’s often filled with bills, receipts and sometimes, dinner. And that’s why we recently constructed our collaborative creation in the dining/living room of our home. He needed to saw and screw and sculpt and I needed to draw and cut and sew and glue to create a giant puppet for an elementary school play. He’s wonderful and we are very proud of our creation – BUT… he’s taken over the main floor of our house. And all the tools and supplies necessary for his creation are in those rooms and not in their homes.

This is why, one day, I’d like to have a workshop. Large enough for the two of us to create together and to store all our supplies. Then maybe, we could eat regularly at the dining room table. I wonder what that’s like.

Collaborative Giant Puppet

What a difference a year makes.

I went out for groceries and such today, and the whole time I was running errands, I simply wanted to be at home making puppets. Me, making puppets. I wouldn’t have been doing that a year ago. This time last year, The Muppets was in theatres and I was enjoying sharing it with friends and family.  I was reading about them online, finding out more about muppetcentral.com, toughpigs.com, muppetmindset.blogspot.ca and I didn’t even know that The MuppetCast existed yet. One year later and I have multiple puppets that I’ve made, I’ve helped others to bring their own puppets into the world, I’ve appeared on The MuppetCast and interviewed Steve Swanson for my own podcast. I’ve seen the Muppets perform live in New York and Montreal and I’ve seen a performance of Stuffed and Unstrung.  I’ve also visited The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and the PuppetsUp Festival in Almonte. Quite an adventure in one year. I wonder, what will this next year bring?

Spread the love…

In the last little while I’ve had great opportunities to share passion for theatre and things theatrical and creative. We do that on our podcast regularly, but there’s been extensions of late.

A few days ago, my senior students and I traveled to Medway High School to share our plays with other students. The different classes, from almost opposite ends of our school board had finished a unit of playwriting and we created our First Annual Three Way Play Festival! It was great. We arrived, played a drama game and took turns showing off our short plays for each other. Then we had a wonderful lunch, hopped back on the bus and made the long journey back to our school. All the plays were wonderful and all the positive support for the work was great. I know my kids enjoyed visiting another school and making new friends because that was the last thing they were doing, getting in a circle and asking each other questions. They want to do it again next year and they want it to be a whole day. We’ll see what we can arrange.

This week, Shrew’d Business, (my husband and I) are working with the LYTE kids at The Palace. We are providing workshops in beginner techniques in Stage Combat and they are eating it up! At the time of this writing we have one workshop left and you can certainly tell that the kids are excited to learn something new.

Teaching how to safely pull someone’s hair. See the smiles?

And last weekend, I shared with friends how to make a “muppety” monster puppet. Seven new puppets came into the world and they all had so much fun. The energy was completely infectious and the delight they each had when they made a new piece of their puppet was heavenly. Such a wonderful thing to share. We shared some pics on the social media(s) and the response was equally positive. It looks like I’ll be doing more of the same in future months! Happy to do so!

A collage of creatures. Thanks to Kerry Hishon for the pics!

The thing with spreading the love is, you get more of it back – just the thing we all need, right?

“I’ve got a dream too. But it’s about singing and dancing and making people happy. That’s the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And well, I’ve found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream. And it kind of makes us like a family.”

Kermit the Frog