A couple of weeks ago, a team of people came together at the London School of Puppetry (LSP) in Grassington to develop a piece of work created by London based poet and playwright Avaes Mohammad titled "Of Another World". One of the more interesting experiences I have had within the puppetry world, this week of discovery and play was incredibly fulfilling. A story of immigration and the struggles of one character who finds himself in an unknown world, this piece inspired some amazing conversations and I gained a lot of perspective about some of the issues surrounding immigration through these discussions.
The team consisted of two directors; the head of the LSP Caroline Astell-Burt and LSP Graduate Kate James-Moore, Set designer and giant puppet maker Silvann Plummer, Avaes himself... and the puppeteer, yours truly. This project presented some significant challenges for me, all of which I feel I have grown and learned from. The main character in the show is a marionette (string puppet), a form I have less experience with. This project gave me the chance to really hone my skills with marionettes which I must say I thoroughly enjoyed. I find marionettes incredibly challenging, physically and mentally, the amount of focus, control and subtlety needed for this form to work is astounding. Working under Caroline and Kate's direction was fantastic, they really pushed me to explore the puppet and it's capabilities and helped me learn the power of stillness, slowness and silence. By the end of the week I felt much more confident with the puppet and very proud of my improvement. I am feeling very motivated to keep working with marionettes, continuing my development through play.
The dynamic within our team of five was absolutely lovely. Through long discussions, developing ideas, rehearsing, more rehearsing and long walks by the river, by the end of the week we felt like a little family. The communication between us all was very open and the subject matter of the show was very personal to some, creating a feeling of camaraderie within the group. Everyone had a role to play and everyone played it well, however I will admit knowing my place was another challenge I faced while involved with this project. Coming from a background of directing, producing, managing etc. I often found it difficult to know when it was appropriate to give my opinion. Though this was absolutely a collaborative process, the fact that roles had been designated and the respect I felt for my directors and the entire team meant I needed to master the art of keeping my mouth shut. That's not to say my opinion wasn't appreciated, it absolutely was, it was just finding the right time to give it! By the end of the week I felt I had found the right balance, and the whole experience was very beneficial to me as I am sure I will find myself in many similar situations throughout my career.
The show itself; the work we developed over this nine day period was really beautiful. Avaes' writing developed as the days went by, the set and puppets were built, we played with shadows, marionettes and rods and it all came together in a way that I think is very effective. Still a work in development, I am looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. The London School of Puppetry will be continuing their collaboration with Avaes on this piece in the lead up to it's debut in May at Theatre in The Mill. I will post more information about the show as soon as I know more.
Photo's are up in my gallery.
For more about Avaes visit: http://avaesmohammad.com/
For more about Silvann visit: http://teteaplumes.overblog.com/~-t%C3%AAte-%C3%A0-plumes-~
For more about Kate James-Moore visit: http://commediapuppets.weebly.com/
and for more about the London School of Puppetry: http://londonschoolofpuppetry.com/