Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Taking a closer look at ... the Humanette

Our Associate company, Humanish, have been reworking their Humanette Christmas show - Holy Presents - for a new tour. We thought we'd take the opportunity to ask God (one of the lead characters) a little bit more about the show and this puppet form ...

'Humanette Puppet' doesn't exist in Wikipedia. Are you for real?

A lesser known species, we'll admit, but one that features recurrently in comedy and cabaret. The Humanette (sometimes called a Human Marionette) is a head-body-hybrid of humans and puppets. 

Aha. So - how do you work?

Blind Summit associates Humanish rehearsing for Holy Presents
This is a table top puppet and the puppeteer body is disguised by dressing in black and performing against a black background, controlling the puppet's arms with dark rods and its feet with discreet grips. 

The big exception is the puppeteer's head - proudly revealed in all its expressive glory - with the puppet body (roughly the size of a 9 month old baby) hanging from the neck. Like me, here, warming up for my annual family Shakespeare recital.

What notable Humanettes have gone before you?

Ernest Elliot - early Humanette performerAs the God Humanette I'm obviously the Original and the Creator, but there have been a few notable followers. 

One was Ernest Elliot (1894 - 1974), one of the first entertainers to appear on television in the early days of the BBC. He performed his Humanette material in front of Princess Margaret, don't you know? 

Then there was the incorrigible Dario Fo used us regularly as part of his satirical armour.  

And here's an example of Humanetting with a flamenco edge, courtesy of Philippe Genty - 

What about Blind Summit? Have they ever used Humanettes before?

El Gato Con Botas at the New Victory Theatre in New York
I'm glad you asked. They've actually used Humanettes on a couple of occasions.

The first was Kyle Pfortmiller as the King in our Gotham Chamber Opera, El Gato Con Botas at the New Victory Theatre in New York. Another was Kommilitonen at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and the Royal Academy of Music in London. 

So there you go. Blind Summit bringing the Humanette form back into contemporary puppet use for our friends across the pond.

So God - where can we see your rendition of the Bard in Holy Presents

We will be taking our show to the lucky souls of the Theatre Royal Margate, the Lincoln Drill Hall, the Firestation in Windsor and the fine people of Camden and their people's theatre.

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