Archive - November 2007

1
JangNaRa Puppet Show
2
Raventales
3
Rusty and Jerome removed from museum
4
Funny!
5
Free Pattern!
6
Puppeteer steps into the Dragons’ Den
7
Little’s Creatures
8
Please Read, then give!
9
Learn to make Jabba the Hutt!
10
Puppeteer pulls all right strings in eco-prize bid

JangNaRa Puppet Show

Here is yet another video posting…

Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand this show- but it looks to me like the contestants learn a skill, and then are required to perform it. It is interesting to see how the puppeteer teaches the contestant, her practicing with the puppet, and then her live performance- which is pretty darn good too.

Rusty and Jerome removed from museum

The CBC aired a video depicting beloved Rusty and Jerome (characters from Canada’s own Friendly Giant Series) as forgotten, retirement home-dwelling, drinking, smoking, and over-sexed has-beens. The Homme Family immediately removed the characters from the CBC museum. Richard Homme, the son of the late Bob Homme (aka The Friendly Giant) stating that trust and contract were violated because approval to use the puppets was never sought. He also insists that had permission been sought, they would have never given the CBC the green light.

I personal thought it was hillarious, but agree on the Hommes stand on the issue.

Check it out for yourself, please be aware that it is for adult audiences only.

Thanks Jerrold for this notice :-) 

Free Pattern!

2050807600_ffe1a1ed4b.jpg
Alrighty then! I’ve been asked time, and time again for the pattern I posted on The Muppet Central Forum last March. I’ve see some of the really amazing things that came from it and thought that it would be great to now provide the fabric pattern to go along with it- It is now complete!

These are free!- If you feel guilty using them 🙂 please feel free to make a donation to one of these:  Center for Puppetry Arts, Muppetcast, or Camp Trillium.

All that I request is that you please give me credit (Tom Stewart,  at Puppeteersunite.com) if using them as a teaching tool, or for publishing purposes. 

These are crude drawings, I apologize, they were never meant to be published in anyway to the public. Enjoy! 

Puppeteer steps into the Dragons’ Den

full_752994puppet_monday.jpgBy Simon Barrett of the Argus

A puppeteer behind a hi-tech cartoon character will take a brave step into the Dragons’ Den.

David Field, of Alfriston, near Polegate, will present his ‘Virtual Puppet’ to the fiery panel of self-made multi-millionaires on the BBC show, on Monday.

The father-of-two believes the 3D character is the future of shopping, advertising, corporate events and children’s parties.

Projected on a plasma screen, the character imitates the body movements and facial expressions of whoever is wearing a special suit fitted with sensors to detect the tiniest gestures.

Millions of viewers will see the 39-year-old appealing to the Dragons for investment for his state-of-the-art motion capture technology system.

He ventures into the den hoping to secure a £200,000 investment.

Mr Field said: “Going into the Den was terrifying and it took an awful lot of preparation and money from all different sources just to get to that stage.

“The pressure was really on to get the investment and to answer all their questions. It felt that everything was on the line. It looks like entertaining reality TV, but believe me it was very real indeed.

“People say the Dragons are horrible but that’s just part of the whole game, and I did think it was great fun.”

The technology behind the Virtual Puppet, which would have cost millions of pounds to produce just a few years ago, can now be run from the average home computer.

The person operating the virtual puppet is hidden nearby behind a screen or curtain and can interact live with an audience.

Mr Field, who was born in Lewes and grew up in Brighton, said it could be used by a shop to chat to customers entering a store about its latest offers, and at trade shows, information booths and business conferences.

But he is sworn to secrecy over whether he received the cash – although he admitted that business was booming since he entered the den.

He added: “We are near to completing some amazing contracts. It really has all taken off since I went into the den.

“There are shops who want to use the Virtual Puppet already in time for the Christmas rush by welcoming customers to their store and telling them about their special offers.

“People just stop and look at it because it is so amazing.”

He has been working with Hove-based company Berlin-Armstrong Locatives, which has developed the technology.

Mr Field said: “The system captures your entire body movement and basically lets you become a joystick to control the character on the screen.

“Until very recently, computers could not do this kind of thing in a relatively cheap and accessible way. The advances in technology mean many of the things we could only dream of are on the verge of being made a reality.

“You never know, if it takes off I could be moving in next to Fatboy Slim one day.”

Dragons’ Den is broadcast at 9pm on Monday, on BBC Two.

Little’s Creatures

Jonathan Little has produced some really hillarious, and well made puppet videos for Youtube.

Jonathan with buddy Stephen Bailey, both graduates of the Museum school of fine arts in Boston; also performed for kaiju big battel. Jonathan comes from a sculpture background, and Stephen is more interested in the technical and performance side of puppetry.

Jonathan states in an email: 

“Both of us have been fans of puppetry for a long time and have
finally made the plunge about two months ago into starting the dream
of our own puppetry company “Little’s Creatures”. We are constantly
watching our practice sessions and constantly pushing the building
limits of puppets for ourselves. We want to make this dream come true
and we know all it takes is some drive and that we have plenty of.

Keep an eye out for this dynamic duo! See more Youtube videos!

Please Read, then give!

Puppeteer Ralph Kipniss loves the “Pinocchio” story.

He’s performed it a thousand times, by his estimate. But at age 67 and down on his luck, he knows he’ll need to do more than wish upon a star if he hopes to keep his dream alive.

Kipniss says he needs at least $10,000 to reopen his Des Plaines-based National Marionette Company of Chicago, where he has staged elaborate puppet shows such as “Snow White,” “Aladdin” and that enchanting story about the little puppet whose nose grows whenever he tells a lie.

“I’ve invested every penny I can in this business,” he said. “We have to get some financial support. We have no money to work anymore.”

Kipniss says he can’t afford the $1,200 monthly rent and other expenses to operate his Puppet Parlor Theatre. It would be a real loss if it closes for good, said Marillyn Giedraitis, 62, who has performed with Kipniss and helped stage his shows.

“What upsets me is that this man is a Chicago treasure,” she said. “He’s an icon. There aren’t that many people who know how to do this.”

Kipniss moved to Des Plaines after an electrical fire in 2005 destroyed the original 75-seat parlor in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood, his home for 17 years.

While he had a loyal following in the city, his puppet acts have struggled to find a new audience. He closed the theater in August after staging about 50 shows in two years and recently canceled performances of “Wizard of Oz” because he says he couldn’t afford $1,000 to rent scaffolding.

Kipniss says he has sought financial help from banks, local businesses and even the city of Des Plaines — so far without success. He also approached the Des Plaines Arts Council, but with a modest annual budget, the group says there was little it could do.

“He’s excellent and we’re pleased that Ralph moved to Des Plaines,” said Donna Catlett, the council’s treasurer and former president. “But we don’t have a big enough budget to fund any of our members.”

Des Plaines Ald. Laura Murphy said not that many people know about the theater.

“It’s just so unfortunate that they didn’t make themselves known sooner,” she said.

The ebbing of his artistic fortunes isn’t how Kipniss imagined he would lower the curtain on a puppetry career spanning nearly four decades.

Kipniss, who lives in Chicago’s Forest Glen neighborhood in a home he shares with two dogs and six cats, estimates he has staged at least 20,000 puppet shows, more than 1,000 of which have been at Chicago-area schools and park districts. In the 1970s and ’80s, he and his business partner Lou Ennis performed throughout the U.S. and up to six times a week in Chicago.

Their repertoire featured more than 50 programs with 4,000 costumed marionettes, each about 30 inches tall, that they sculpted from blocks of wood.

“If nothing else, Ralph, in a quiet sort of way, is passionate about marionettes,” said Dennis Wolkowicz, manager of Chicago’s Portage Theater, where Kipniss performed in April. “The audience liked it. I think everybody was surprised how you can really buy into these things.”

Ennis suffered a stroke around the time of the fire and died later in 2005. Kipniss says neither he nor the business has been the same since.

Ideally, Kipniss says he would like to lease a large enough space to hold a theater and a workshop where he could design new puppets and mentor those interested in learning the centuries-old craft.

Kipniss learned about puppetry from his grandfather and parents, Russian immigrants who staged puppet shows to earn money.

As a boy, he practiced with a marionette in front of a full length mirror. It took more than a decade, he said, to effectively control his hand-painted creations.

He doubts there are many children today willing to devote that kind of time to puppetry. And yet he holds out hope, just as Geppetto did that everything will turn out OK.

Without a star in sight, he said, “It has to.”

After digging around I found some contact information- if you have a few dollars please give and help save Ralph and his puppets.

Puppet Parlor Theatre
0 Des Plaines Masonic Center
Des Plaines
773-774-2919

Puppeteer pulls all right strings in eco-prize bid

man-who-planted-trees-small.jpgAn Edinburgh puppeteer has been shortlisted for a Scottish prize that rewards creative attempts to highlight environmental issues.

Richard Medrington, from the Puppet State Theatre Company, is one of the four finalists in the established talent category of the Scottish Eco Prize for Creativity.

Medrington was nominated for the puppet play The Man Who Planted Trees – a stage adaptation of Jean Giono’s environmental cult classic. It tells the story of a French shepherd and his dog who persevere to overcome various obstacles and transform the bleak landscape that surrounds them into a rich woodland ecosystem. The play uses a blend of comedy, puppetry, storytelling and multi-sensory effects.

We wish Richard all the best in winning this award.

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