"Astrid was very moving... I loved the marionette and was almost in tears at the end of the performance."
"Sad and moving – frustration and joy. All enhanced by the lovely music and very expressive marionette."
"The emotion through Astrid, I have never seen a performance with puppets as moving. I felt drawn into another world. Thank you."
Just over a month ago now, the London School of Puppetry hosted "Living Room Theatre", a showcase event and my final assessment. Above you can see quotes taken from our audience feedback forms. Though all three of my show's were well received, "Astrid" was my greatest triumph and I am still so incredibly proud of how well the show came together and how it effected audiences.
As many of you will know, I have now returned to Australia. The last couple of months have been an absolute whirl wind and thus I am very behind on my blogs. I am hoping to rectify this. And so it begins...
The lead up to this event was very busy for me, with my days at LSP rapidly coming to a close, and a flight to Australia looming, plus three show's to rehearse and polish for assessment... there may have been a bit of stress to deal with on my end. It was however, one of the more entertaining times in the LSP house, with everyone going a little bit silly under pressure... sillier than normal.
The day before Living Room Theatre, we visited two primary schools in Skipton, sharing with the children our work, and asking for feedback. This was the first time I had attempted something like this and I must say I had been underestimating young children horribly. The experience was very rewarding and really worth doing. Children's opinions are so honest and unbiased, it was incredibly interesting to hear their views. Given the nature of the show, I was surprised that the children enjoyed "Astrid" so much. Astrid's show is quite sombre and serious, but the children loved it and had some very insightful feedback. Henri was of course very popular, and even elicited some fan art!
When the day finally arrived, I was all in a tizz. With our first audience due at 3pm, we spent the morning making final adjustments, doing any final shopping and generally laughing a lot. Caroline and Mel were busy upstairs baking cakes for our audiences. My musical collaborators on Astrid's show "Stems" had agreed to attend our showcase and perform their song live with my performance. This was an incredibly exciting prospect, and I awaited their arrival with anticipation.
We had two audiences over the course of the day, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, both of which were very receptive and just generally lovely people. My performance load was the heaviest with three shows, "Astrid", "Henri" and my glove show "Topsy Turvy", all up for assessment. This meant that logistically, I was the most difficult to schedule, and though Caroline continued to remind me that this was a casual event, it was very hard for me to remain calm throughout.
Performing my show's however was an absolute joy. I felt well rehearsed and confident and really enjoyed sharing the audiences energy. Though I know puppetry on screen has its place, there is something so special about live puppetry. It is an art form that can be so engaging and so special when a live interaction is done well. Henri is a fantastic example of this, he is one of my most effective puppets in really engaging people. His eyes seem to draw people in and they instantly believe he is alive, living and breathing. Of course he is not... Caroline would be quick to remind me that he is a dead thing. This is the magic though, the magic of puppetry that sparks people's imaginations and fills me to the brim with happiness.
Performing Astrid with Stems live was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. With three talented musicians sitting behind me, Christine Avis on cello, Tom Owen on violin and John Dorr on guitar, the flow of energy between the band, Astrid and the audience was just incredible. I have never felt as focused as I did during those performances and even now writing about it, my breath catches in my chest remembering the pride I felt. For more about the development of this show you can read my previous post Astrid's Journey.
The event went off without a hitch. Our performances were enjoyed and praised, the bond of our little LSP family tightened immensely, and I went to bed that night an un-official LSP graduate, passing all of my final performance assessments with flying colors.
Living Room Theatre was such a wonderful event with three students, one graduate and LSP head Caroline Astel Burt sharing our work with the community. It was an experience I will not soon forget.
A huge thanks must go to all my fellow performers, some of the greatest people in the world: Caroline Astell-Burt, Addya Panayiotou, Ella Mackay and Kay Yasugi. The most special mention, however must go to our beloved Melanie Smith, for her tremendous cooking and incredible support. Thanks Mel.
Once the event had wrapped up and our audience had all gone home, we puppeteers really let our silliness shine. Hilarious antics on the living room floor, the space that had been our stage. We laughed and played late in to the evening... enjoying our crazed exhaustion, our success and of course the leftover cake.
Just days after Living Room Theatre, we were all on a train to France, heading to the fifth annual "Fest des Marionettes aux Estampes" stay tuned for this post, coming soon!
Now back in Australia, Astrid is in pre-production with Balloon Tree Productions, getting ready to transform her live show in to a video clip. Follow me on Twitter for updates!
For more photos visit my Gallery.
For more about the London School of Puppetry, visit: http://londonschoolofpuppetry.com/
For more about Stems visit: http://stems.moonfruit.com/about/4567427861