Archives for the month of: December, 2013

Back from my Christmas holidays I had the best intentions to write more regularly again. Now sitting here, I realise, my mojo is still missing. I desperately hope it will come back in the New Year. In the meantime I will put up the little film we did during the holidays to lure the niece and nephew away from the computer games. It took us all afternoon to produce one minute of film. Phew… But it was great to watch them getting engrossed in the process. Ten-year-old Flynn in particular was tickle pink to see his name in the credits.

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It’s not about the Dedepuppets today, but I want to share this video with you. It is about what is currently going on at the polytech where I have been teaching part-time until recently. Last year they got rid of all part-time staff, this year they gave notice to all 53 full-time staff members. Not to discontinue the department and the degrees on offer, but to replace the full-time lecturers with 17 administrators and part-timers from “the industry.” It is a totally unbelievable story and a slap in the face of all the great lecturers that have build the brilliant reputation of this particular department over the years. It is indeed extremely bamboozling when you know that the quality of the department was ranked 4th in NZ and has passed its educational review last year with flying colours.

The students have created this youtube video and I want to support them and my ex-collegues in their fight by sharing it with my readers.

lippy

I know, I have been pretty slack lately with writing on my blog. Last year around this time the Dedes were extremely busy having their Super Dede competition. This year they are moping about in their dark cupboard. Due to dramatic changes in my work life I am currently preoccupied with research. I have to re-invent myself yet again. The more research I do, the more I am convinced that I want to stay with puppetry in the future. The other day, I had to laugh when I read in a book by Kenneth Gross called “Puppets” what puppeteer Michael Vogel said. He said that  once, while working on a piece based on Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen, he felt many old, unused puppets in his studio asking for a chance for new work. Always, he said, even when he could not use them, “I try to be polite, so they are not annoyed or frustrated.” (p 76). I had to read this out loud to the Dedes. They shouldn’t get too precious, other puppets have problems too!

Personally, I am busy with heaps of stuff, but I am terribly superstitious. I don’t want to talk about half-baked things. I strongly believe if I talk prematurely, they don’t work out. But I can tell you, I will be really happy when 2013 is finally over. It was such a crap year, it can only get better next year :). My puppetry workshop has finally been announced in the Term 1 programme of Artstation. So if you are living in Auckland and want to know more about puppets: Do enrol! (grrrrrr, I hate blatant self-promotion). However, I need to get enough enrolments for the course to take place. I am definitely looking forward to it. Unfortunately puppetry is not very big in New Zealand.

The puppet in the picture is another project I can now start talking about. It is the prototype for the main character in a short film (a very short film, but longer than the flash dramas the Dedes usually do). The film is a collaboration between a therapist in Australia, a playwright in England and myself. An interesting way to work, it all happens by email and it’s working very well. We have submitted the film to a conference that will take place in April. So there is a definite deadline and it is a lovely project to escape the Christmas blues.

us as well

I thought everything is honky dory in my studio. All the puppets are delighted about the latest film. Even Lil’ Sculpture came down from his shelf last Saturday to take a minor part in “A Dede day @ the bank”. He hasn’t had this kind of attention for ages. The visitors didn’t tire to tell him what a cutie he was, and of course he was extremely cheerful when he climbed back onto his shelf after everybody had gone.

Much to my surprise I realised today that Office Man must have been terribly despondent. I found him hanging upside down on his strings. No idea how this happened. He was very much in disarray and couldn’t speak after I rescued him. Lil’ Sculpture must have seen everything (after all he is sitting right next to Office Man) but he keeps mum.  I hope Lil’ Sculpture wasn’t to boastful about his reception by the  crowd. It could have made Office Man feel inadequate. I promise, once he had a bit of a rest, I will get to the bottom of the story. I won’t let him off the hook.

A day at the bank

Hurrah, the Dedes are happy again. Yesterday we had some people around for another workshop. The highlight was the visit by their old mate Punch too. (He was one of the puppets who found a new home at the exhibition.) Unlike the first workshop, we had no idea where the story would take us this time. In the previous workshop we had a theme: we knew from the outset, that one of the Dedes will recite a Dada poem, and we had a long discussion about the sense and nonsense of Dada poems. Yesterday we started with an blank canvas (except for the few puppets who had held their hands up to take part. They were eagerly waiting on stage to get started). Of course when Punch too entered the room, he jumped straight onto the stage and wanted to play with his old mates. He has a different dress and you will know who he is, when you watch the video. The final piece ended up to be more Dada than the previous one….

I absolutely loved the process. As usual, when you don’t have anything to go by, it was a sluggish start. To kick-start I asked everyone to say one word that popped into their mind without thinking. But of course Rob D Light with his hankerchief across his face  was hanging out on stage waiting for the filming to start and it wasn’t a surprise that we very quickly agreed to set the scene in a bank. From there on there was no holding back. In the end we were laughing so much I even forgot to take images or I wasn’t looking carefully and had all sort of human body parts in the pictures. I couldn’t use a good chunk of the footage. This will teach me a lesson.

I am not directing during workshops at all, and the storyline is entirely driven by the participants. I am just an observer and what I see flows into post-production. The session yesterday was three hours and with easing in and post mortem, there is not enough time to finish everything. So I completed the film this morning.

Thanks to everbody who helped making this flash drama and I hope the final product finds your approval.
Enjoy our master piece, we certainly enjoyed making it!