Monday, 31 October 2016

November's Puppet of the Month - the Golden Monkey from 'His Dark Materials'

Hey Monkey, thanks for coming in. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? 

That's Golden Monkey to you, if you please. I'm the dæmon of Lyra's mother, Marisa Coulter - a lady who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to stub a few toes along the way. So as the physical manifestation of her soul, I play to win. And I don't take any crap, pal. 

So how was it performing at the National Theatre back in 2004?

Everyone gets that wrong. I wasn't at the National. I was made for a production at Birmingham Rep and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Right. So - how are you made and who operated you? 

Me and Mark
I'm made from Plastazote, which is a lightweight foam. Nick Barnes designed me and Ben Thompson operated me in the show. He also worked the Stupid Bear - but I, being exceptionally clever, was obviously his favourite. 

What are you up to these days?

I hang tight in Birmingham Rep's storage unit, but I've had a few outings with student productions. The York Theatre Royal youth theatre mounted a Dark Materials production, as did the University of Bristol 

What did you get up to on Halloween?

I attempted to break out and play a few pranks on the people of Birmingham, but there was no one to help me do it. You can't make mischief if you're on your own as a puppet. But don't worry, I'm collecting recruits. Next year we're going to wreak havoc ... 

Puppeteer Profile: Laura Caldow ...

Laura has been a regular performer with Blind Summit since 2008 in productions including Madam Butterfly, Citizen Puppet, Le Rossignol and even took on one of our toughest roles - the feet of Moses in The Table. We caught up with her during rehearsals for the world's first immersive ballet with Will Tuckett...

Laura & Frippery
How did you start working with Blind Summit? 
I first worked with Blind Summit on Faeries at the Royal Opera House in 2008. I was cast as a dancer but ended up doing 2 of the puppet characters - Mrs Sands and Frippery. I loved it and found it very hard to put Frip back in his box at the end of the tour.

What's your most vivid puppet memory? 
There are so many! Highlights include Moses sitting on my head in a show in Florida, proposing to a lady in Switzerland, & romping with one of the actors at Second City in Chicago. Sorrow's leg falling off at the end of a Madam Butterfly show also springs to mind!

We hear you've recently been dancing in churches with a world class cellist. How was that? 
It was a project called Choreographing Bach with cellist Orlando Jopling and Director Fiona Clift, another Blind Summit associate. We wanted to make something where the cellist and dancer really interacted, and so we worked together throughout the devising period, which is really rare. We performed it in London & Colchester. I loved duetting with Orlando who is amazing, and playing with the audience who weren't accustomed to experiencing classical music in that way. We're hoping to tour the piece next year.

If you want any more information on Laura's work, check out:

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Application for the Artistic Director of The Globe

Dear Globe,

I understand that there will be an opening for Artistic Director at your theatre in 2018 and I am writing to ask if you would consider appointing a puppet?

Puppets are really trendy these days and in that spirit I am putting myself forward for consideration.

Do not be shocked by my appearance, I come with a range of different hands and heads that can easily be changed. As you can see I can be made in the likeness of William Shakespeare. But I could also be the Earl of Oxford. Or Burbage. Or whatever. I could be made into a woman, or a person of colour. Or I can be made to have two faces. 

As an actual puppet I have never knowingly had an opinion about anything. I will do whatever you make me do, and say whatever you make me say. These are not even my own words so if this application does not address your needs, simply rewrite it according to what you want.

On the subject of original practise, who knows what Mark Rylance would really want, but I am more than happy to wear a doublet and hose 24/7 around the office if that helps.

I come with puppeteers or you can learn to puppet me yourself.

A word of warning though. People don’t hold puppeteers in very high regard and a lot of people find puppetry a bit creepy. Some people positively recoil. But I am sure you can handle a bit of controversy.

I hope to hear from you soon and look forward to having your hands up my arse.


A. Puppet

Monday, 3 October 2016

October's Puppet of the Month - Mrs Sands from Faeries

Hello Mrs Sands, can you tell us who you are?

I was in the Royal Opera House's 2008 production, Faeries, dear! Directed by Will Tuckett, the story is set in wartime London where Johnny and his sister, Beattie, orphaned in the Blitz, are to be evacuated to different farms in the country. Johnny, however, runs away and spends the night in Kensington Gardens where he meets faeries (Blind Summit puppetry of course) and has wonderful adventures.

I was in charge of the evacuee programme so I wasn't entirely pleased...

Who designed you and how many people operated you?
I was designed by the hugely talented Nick Barnes and three people operated me including Laura Caldow (pictured above) who had worked with the Director, Will, previously. Faeries was her first time on a puppet and she has since worked with Blind Summit on many productions including The Table and Madam Butterfly. I believe she also worked with Will earlier this year on the Royal Opera House's production, Elizabeth.

Have you now retired from running the evacuee programme?

Oh yes, what a silly question. I'm at the Royal Opera House waiting to see if they'll need me again but for now I'm enjoying peace time and life in storage! Why don't you watch the trailer below to get a better idea of the production...