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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 1

So, we are now in the intermediate class. In the beginning class, there were eight of us. In this class, we have five enrolled. I am glad to be working with these people again. This week, two people had jobs (I don’t know the details but they probably were probably filming something, I assumed) so there were only three of us. That actually worked out pretty well, because we were doing a few songs and exercises in which there were one lead singer and two backup singers in the back. With three people, we just kept rotating who the lead singer was during these exercises. It was also good practice for keeping your arms in the air for a more extended period of time.

According to the email Michael sent out, this is what the intermediate class will cover:

  • Stage a musical number you provide
  • Learn how to stage a musical number
  • Working with a script
  • More advanced choreography
  • More character voice work
  • More advanced arm rod work
  • More improvs and storytelling
  • Everyone gets a copy of their work at the end of 4th session.

When I looked at the list again after the first class, I thought “Yep, we did all of that.” In the beginning class, we practiced lip-sync using choreography that were provided to us; in this class, we are learning to analyze the songs, pick out words that we can emphasize and ideas we can play with, and work out a choreography for both the lead singer and the backup singers. I like the idea about finding the hooks in the song, and then adding visual hooks to the choreography for the performers to do.

As for the improv and story-telling part, they were similar to the beginning class, but with more in-depth analysis afterwards. Now that we got the basics down, although we still couldn’t execute everything perfectly every single time (it has only been less than two months, after all), we were all a lot more aware of what was right and what was wrong. Since these exercises were taped, we were able to all watch them and have discussions about them afterwards.

Overall, everybody now has a solid foundation to build on. The basic stuff like weight, eye-focus, and keeping the puppets held up straight are all there. Now we are doing a lot more fine-tuning. For example, besides doing basic lip-sync, we are now learning to vary the mouth sizes for different vowels. Granted, it wasn’t always noticeable because the mouths can be moving quite fast. And even when I was consciously watching for it during the demonstration, I wasn’t consistently seeing the variations. However, when the speech slows down or when a word is emphasized/billboarded, this kind of detail could make the performance even better. We are just adding layers and layers onto it.

And I finally learned the answer to a question that I’ve been wondering: Does Cookie Monster have a hole in his mouth for him to actually eat things, or does he always just drop everything onto the floor? The answer: yes, he does have a hole for the puppeteers to pull things through, but since he always eats so much, so fast, and in such messy manner, most of that just drops on the floor anyway. :-)

Looking forward to the next class, especially the choreography design part! 😀

Related Posts:
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 2
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 3
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 4
TV Puppetry Workshop: Weeks 5,6

Comments

  1. November 5th, 2009 | 1:52 am

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  3. November 9th, 2009 | 3:31 am

    […] TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 1 TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 2 TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 3 TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 1 TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 2 TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 3 TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 4 TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 5,6 Bookmark It […]

  4. Na
    February 6th, 2010 | 10:14 pm

    Sounds like a very good class. I think again a lot of things transfer over from acting techniques: I always found that the ‘best’ acting (‘best’ because I’m actually really shit and don’t like performing anyway) was when a script was deconstructed down to phrases, intentions, etc. Analysing what’s important and what’s not, playing with different ways of presenting them, etc.

  5. Na
    February 6th, 2010 | 10:21 pm

    Sounds like a very good class. I think again a lot of things transfer over from acting techniques: I always found that the ‘best’ acting (‘best’ because I’m actually really shit and don’t like performing anyway) was when a script was deconstructed down to phrases, intentions, etc. Analysing what’s important and what’s not, playing with different ways of presenting them, etc.

    I’m really liking the word ‘layering’ for puppetry. It works just as well in performance as it does in puppet design. The best puppets are ones that ‘layer’; are stripped down to bare necessity, and then layers of additional design/function, etc added on. If you start with too much, the design looks cluttered, whereas if you ‘layer’ it looks focused and designed with intent.

  6. February 7th, 2010 | 5:06 am

    Yeah, that’s because you start with a structure and you are enhancing and reinforcing the structure to make it better.

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