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


That was one long hiatus. But I am back!

War Horse

So, puppet stuff. I went to watch War Horse (the play, not the movie) at the Ahmanson Theatre. It was one beautiful show. Really, I just bought the tickets because I believe that the puppets are going to be quite amazing (and they were), but I really liked the other aspects of the show as well, such as the design of the stage. Nowadays, there are a lot of shows that are going for more and more spectacular set pieces and props. This show, however, was very minimalistic with the set pieces. Many scenes just have people holding various sticks and they became fences, auction places, the farm, etc. It was actually quite effective.

And to make it even more awesome, because we went with the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry, there was actually a Q&A with the creative directors and puppeteers afterwards. The creative directors shared how the show came about, why there was a goose in the show, and how the differences in the venues (no revolving stage at Ahmanson) actually introduced new moves that worked even better. The puppeteers talked about how the teams were set up and how they all worked together to bring the horse to life. And man, these people are buff! “They are all in such good shape” was a thought I haven’t had since I was watching the Olympics.

Anyway, the show is currently in Los Angeles, and will tour the United States. Do check out the excellent show if you have the chance.

Marionette Workshop

And here’s yet another awesome event from the guild: a marionette workshop! The workshop was taught by puppet master Tony Urbano, who had worked on many TV shows, movies and live performances. One aspect of these puppeteering workshops that I’ve always loved is the demonstrations. It’s always a pleasure to watch the masters perform up close. When I watched him show us how to do those moves, I just kept think this was the most awesome thing in the world, ever. After lunch, he took the people that had more marionette experience to the next room to practice mouth sync, while the rest of us continued our exercises. Yes, we spent many hours doing this with the puppet: walk across the stage, take a look at the bench (thinking about sitting down of course) and sit down. It was no easy task! Have the puppet too high, then it didn’t look like it’s really walking. Have it too low, and it felt like it’s crouching. Also, if a limb swung out one way and the rest of the body didn’t compensate for that rotation, it just looked wrong. Tricky stuff, but surely a fun challenge.

I really loved the final thought that he left us with (“the F word”). He told us to have Flair. Everybody has some kind of flair, but you got to find it, and bring it out. I really loved that.

Too bad I wasn’t able to make it to the guild officer installment party where he did more performances. So why was I not able to make it? Because I was doing this other fun stuff.

Video shoot

So I’ve been asked to help out on a music video that my friend’s friend is producing. I’ll talk about it later but let me just leave you with some pictures from the shoot.