File puptcrit/puptcrit.0810, message 371

To: <>
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 22:59:57 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Hobey and Mathieu in NYC

Hi all.

I'm back from the trip, and I'm very glad I went.

It wouldn't have been as great without the help of a few putcritters, who 
were great with suggestions!
And it wouldn't have been possible at all without one generous couple in 
particular who hosted me for two nights. I'll let them come forward if they 
choose, a while ago I learned some people prefer to keep their good deeds 

I was glad to meet Hobey Ford at the premiere of Hunchback, on Friday Night.
It was also very endearing to see so many children have fun with their 
Peeper Puppets, some with one on each hand, after the show. The venue 
happens to sell them at their concession stand.
So, this is how we coherce kids into becoming puppeteers now? Right on!!!

The Hunchback was very entertaining and inspiring to me. I especially liked 
the wonderfully articulated sets (two large towers on wheels, with two 
ladders each on pivots, everything thickly wrapped in brown fabric, a few 
giant wooden crates)  and actor's performances. Lots of emotions, as 
themselves and as characters, carried through clearly. They all were 
acrobatic and impressive on those apparently dangerous structures. The 
puppeteering needs more work (I think they are actors first). Some puppet 
vignettes were rough, more like playing with dolls than giving them life. 
The paper mache puppet heads and masks seemed a bit too rough and too 
"paper-mache-bumpy" to me, but I'm just being difficult as a builder 
watching his favorite medium not reaching its full potential. They just need 
to use much smaller pieces of paper, which would have avoided the obvious 
bumps caused by too many forced corners when draping. The strenght of them 
seemed ideal when I examined Quasimodo's head up close. The sculpture of 
them were very good. Everyone seemed very happy with the look. The little 
finishing aspect did not stop me from enjoying their character or life.  lt 
was a good show to see. I had a great time, and recommend it to people who 
enjoy a good entertaining play. It was a good birthday gift for me. I concur 
with Hobey, the kids in the audience seemed to react well at Esmeralda's 
death. I was expecting some gasps or sobs, but none came.

The next day, I had very good times when Hobey and I talked Shop and 
Puppetry and Inventors on the way to and from his show (Animalia) at a 
Public Library in Jersey. The show was awesome. He started with his Peeper 
Puppets routine, which is even more fun in person.  The show was captivating 
and a lot of fun, I haven't enjoyed myself that much at a live event for a 
long time. I was quiet and attentive, then, giggling and laughing and 
clapping with the rest of them, and had no time or inclination to let my 
mind go technical during the show.  The animals interacting with the crowd 
were a hit. So was the daring visual "puppet joke", which I'll keep quiet 
about, to avoid spoiling it for you.  Hobey's Animalia set is very simple 
and very efficient, focusing all our attention to the puppets, which were 
exquisite and moved as if they were alive. The non-verbal storytelling was 
beautiful and very efficiently constructed. The life cycle of a butterfly 
was the frame bringing everything together. To me, this show has a clear 
multi-layered message of respect for nature and life. Hobey made it all 
happen without preaching, in simplicity and grace, with good moments of 
humor. I find it hard to refrain from talking more in details about the 
show, but I wouldn't want to spoil any surprise!
See this show! Book this show!

He finishes his performance by explaining about how the show came to be, how 
he became a puppeteer, giving some puppeteer warmups,  a bit about puppet 
making, and answering other questions. He is a good storyteller and captures 
the audience's attention with seemingly no effort.  This part makes Hobey 
Ford an ambassador of Puppetry in no uncertain terms. Before the show, I 
particularly appreciated how he answered a woman who questionned him about 
the kind of show he was going to give. He answered something along those 
lines: It's a puppet show for adults and children. It's for everybody.
Indeed!  I'd love to see it again, and more shows from him.
I'm going to work on the locals here to invite him to perform.

I had a few misadventures and a long moment of grumpyness and frustration on 
Sunday (cured with perfect french fries, a book, and absolutely heavenly 
pie). After writing it all down, I realize it probably wouldn't interest 
many people, so I'll skip that and just make a brief list of what else I did 
on my wonderful weekend:

.Ripley's Believe it or not, Odditorium: very disapointed and felt ripped 
off (steep price for results), lots of items were low quality or broken, and 
employees were fake-nice and pushy. Still, some interesting stuff in there, 
will inspire me randomly.

.Swedish Cottage: loved the beautiful venue, inside and outside. Nice people 
run it. got to see backstage, briefly, but didn't se much, standing out of 
their way while settiong up for next show.
Disapointed by Peter Pan show's puppeteering, altough the puppets and sets 
were very nicely done and could move well. The show was in previews, so of 
course we were warned it would be rough. I felt they had just started 
rehearsing in that same week. Don't know if it's true. The three puppeteers 
accompanying the Director looked very new at this, which can be one 

.Central Park: loved the park itself, next time I'll rent a bicycle to visit 

.Roxy Delicatessen (time Square or Broadway, not sure which): went twice, 
loved it, will be back.
.Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (Water Street, close to Brooklyn Bridge) 
wonderful Ice cream, best butter Pecan I ever had.
.Toys R Us (nothing seemed really new in toys, but the lifesize Jurassic 
Park animatronic T-Rex was interesting).

.New York people: so much variety it's hard to describe, but I was 
positively surprised. I met lots of nice, interesting, helpful and curteous 
people. But you can only find out if you walk up and talk to them, I noticed 
was the case wih a lot of folks. Lots of frowns turn upside down!
One exception: a rude police officer yelled directions at me, when I first 
stepped out of the subway and asked how to get to a street nearby. The fact 
that I didn't know what a courtyard was, must have triggered her. That or 
she hates tourists. Maybe I'll get my revenge someday, making a puppet after 
her, if I need such a nasty character. The sun was nice, the city was 
waiting, she didn't phase me anymore than two minutes!

.New York Crowds: very very big, very much in a hurry, very hungry, 
unnafraid of cars, and feels very lonely for a single guy lost in it. I'm 
sure the whole city takes on new looks and vibes when shared with someone 

.New York food: yummy but dangerous!
I didn't find any "real" health food restaurant near Times Square, although 
I looked.
Fast food seems to be king everywhere I went. The only exceptions are the 
pricey high class restaurants, which I haven't sampled. I like the fast food 
tastes, but not its consequences.
I'd like to get a real New York steak on my next visit, healthy or not.
What? Food's my only drug! (puppetry don't count as addiction, ok?)

.New York Desserts:I love the cheesecake, and the all-natural roasted nuts 
in honey.

The people I met, the things I experienced and learned, the confirmation 
that "it can be done", made this whole trip a great experience.

I already know that I love New York city when it's for a visit. I also 
believe that I'd adapt to its beat, if I were to land a job in Puppetry over 
there. I'm sometimes seen as hyperactive here in Montreal. There, my beat 
fits right in.  As long as the bedroom is not setup in the middle of Time 
Be it known, I'm ready for ya now, Big Apple!

Gotta go back to making stuff and impress the big wigs.

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