Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Notes on Week 4 Morning Session

Bread and Puppet Blog, Group A, Week 4!

This week’s session started with a discussion about ideas for our final performance piece now that we have chosen the theme “What makes you happy?” Alissa suggested the possibility of thinking along the lines of ‘Keeping up with the Jones’’ and using the idea of Adam and Eve in the Garden on Eden being seduced by advertising, making their ‘perfect paradise’, not so perfect as they keep acquiring new things to make themselves ‘happy’. Matthew also informed us of a link that could be useful to the Guardian website which looks at the highs and lows of the last decade, which will be put up on our facebook group (Bread and Puppet, Group A – RHUL)

We then began this week’s workshop, which was puppet making, held by Jasmine, Rebecca, K/Cez (?...sorry!)Maria, Dom, Ana and Valeria…I think that’s everyone! The workshop started with a presentation, we were told of the ethos of Cheap Art, and Jasmine read out Peter Schuman’s manifesto, which was written out in a style very true to Bread and Puppet! We were also given an idea of how Bread and Puppet make their puppet making accessible to the public, through running workshops, and also the museum in Vermont which shows a range of their masks and puppets. We were told about the different types of puppets they make, what materials are used (strictly recyclable) and how exactly they are made, complete with images! Finally, the last part of the presentation gave us a small history of masks and how they can be used as ritual objects, and sometime people see them as a joke, but they are also used to hide behind real issues.

Once the presentation was over were split into three groups for the three activities that were to take up the rest of the session. One group started with watching a video, one with a discussion about readings we’d done, and the other started making a puppet. We did this in rotating fashion so everyone could partake in each activity.

The video we watched was Bread and Puppet’s take on Joan of Arc, and we were told to pay particular attention to the use of music and the puppets now that we were better informed on those two aspects of Bread and Puppet’s performance, and it was interesting to see a different take on a well known story.

The readings that we had to discuss were Uprising of the Beast: An Interview with Peter Schuman ¬– John Bell and Peter Schuman and ‘The End of “Our Domestic Resurrection Circus” also by John Bell. In particular, the groups seemed to pick up most on the second text, talking about the reasons why the Circus ended, and my group also ended up discussing whether or not Bread and Puppet are as relevant in today’s society as they were in the 60’s when they were first established, a discussion that resulted in the idea that perhaps they are relevant in different ways now than they were back in the 60’s.

The more practical activity was puppet making, each group made a different type of puppet from the recyclable material that we had all brought in, all to do with perfect body image and what makes us happy. The first group created a puppet that was meant to portray ‘the perfect body’ but she was made purposefully too skinny, with protruding sticks to portray her ribs, and her facial expression was unhappy, certain parts of her features were also exaggerated to show that she had had plastic surgery.
The second group made a mask of an ‘ugly’ woman, all her features were made to look almost grotesque, and we left the cutting lines on her face to portray her want for surgery, showing the mindset that surgery can make you feel better.
The last group made a large puppet, made of separate body parts, and she was the direct opposite of the first puppet, fat rather than skinny, and she was made with unhealthy food around her, showing what makes her happy.

This was a fun week, where getting to create the puppets was not only an entertaining, but informative for the final performance!

Next week!

Space and Scenography and Dramaturgy Workshops!

Remember to bring a musical instrument of some sort and a flat piece of cardboard!

Naomi Lawson

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