Thursday, 28 July 2016

August's Puppet of the Month - Tina Henderson

Hi Tina. How are you feeling post Brexit? 

Ach, what's done is done. I've moved on and I've had a pampering from Fiona Clift, who I believe featured in the last newsletter. She's been workin' on me and some of the other puppets from the show, Citizen Puppet. I'm being prodded and poked but I dinnae mind as long as ma hair is fixed.

It may be rude to ask Tina, but what are you made from?

That is rude, darlin'! But I'll tell ya anyway. Well I was originally made by Nick Barnes who hand-sculpted Styrofoam for my head. I've got a cloth body with an internal skeleton made of doweling.

Any plans to retire?
Ach no! Get away with ya! Blind Summit have asked me to be on stand by for a tour of Citizen Puppet in the spring/summer. That's why they've been working on me and given me a new armchair which you can see on the right. I've also popped up on their Facebook a wee bit - my thoughts on Brexit (watch it below), not that I'm still dwelling on it.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

July's Puppet of the Month - Cio Cio San

Are you working at the minute Cio Cio San?

My last performance of Madam Butterfly ends tonight (7 July) at the ENO sadly! While it's not the most happy part I've played it's wonderful to bring this beautiful opera back to life. For now I shall be sleeping and dreaming until the next run...

How many people operate you?

Two people operate me: a puppeteer and a dancer. My current puppeteer in the 2016 ENO run is a trained classical dancer but this is not always the case. I am small and light so I am easy to move with. You can see a clip of Blind Summit Artistic Director, Mark Down, and myself in rehearsals here:

How were you made?

I was made by Nick Barnes and I took 5 weeks to be made from beginning to end. My body is partly soft foam rubber covered with stockinet and also partly Styrofoam covered with Jesmonite and fibre glass. 

My head and hands were originally sculpted in clay and my head is made from hollow fibre glass and polyester resin.

My hair? From the ENO wig department. 

In the workshop with Citizen Puppet heads...

We're back in the workshop again, returning to the puppets from Citizen Puppet. Blind Summit Associate Fiona Clift tells us more...

Why was the decision made to work on the Citizen Puppet puppets again?

Spending a month performing with the puppets last year in Edinburgh, we really came across some structural things we wanted to change! The focus at the minute is on their heads and their moving mouths which are controlled from the back of the head. The mechanisms are quite tricky to use, and their necks are also a bit floppy. We want to see if we make them move around the stage more easily.

So what's the first step?

We've been looking at original Bunraku puppets, for example from our 2005 show Low Life, where the neck mechanism is operated from the back and where a sense of the spine is created. This means the puppet has a centre, making it more solid and providing a different kind of movement.

Tell us about the head you are working on right now

I'm re-working a head I designed and made last year, that didn't make it in to the final show.

The new version is modeled on Germaine Greer. A feminist with a very old school look...

From the photos below you'll see I started sanding her first, shaping her head and making sure I have a smooth finish. I then began to add more detail and we have since found a wholly new character from the one we rehearsed last year. Hopefully she'll make it into the next outing of Citizen Puppet!