File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 420

Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2008 13:36:37 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] puptcrit Digest, Vol 49, Issue 23

Scaling Back. What an odd concept, when in fact I view Puppetry as a 
scaled-back version of Life in the first place.
I have seen huge outdoor spectacles throughout FRance, notably in 
Charleville-Mezieres last fesival, that redefined the word
Awe-some for me. Simply breathtaking in their sheer size and audacity 
of performance and concept.
      But I recently cleaned out a storage shed and found that my 3 
large (2x human size) bodies and parts had been nibbled on by some 
rodents. They had eaten the entire tuxedo that had been impeccable. I 
was furious. Mad at the fact that I hadn't used these bodies in over 
10 years and they had to be relegated to rat food to prove their 
usefullness. I threw out the big bodies but I keep all the heads in a 
big bag until the next Holloween. (Some can be seen 
      But, I love puppets that can be operated fully with one- hand, 
enabling the other hand to work another puppet or prop or pick my 
nose. So for me, Small is indeed beautiful. But I got caught up in 
this when I began to conceive a live show for 12" high 
rod-marionnettes.=A0I realized that only a very small audience could 
seen them. Many couldn't see the intricate detailes I loved. Since I 
abhor a puppet show that prevents me from enjoying the general 
details of the puppets... <I've seen a julie taymore opera, Dutchman, 
where i spent over $100 for a decent seat and barely could make out 
what was happening on stage with their small scale. Also, recently at 
UCLA I saw an intimate show in a "small" Theatre space that also 
prevented me from seeing correctly. So these 2 experiences went 
through my mind about performing with my small objects>... so, I 
changed my plans. =A0I didn't want to duplicate those feelings for 
anyone. I want everyone to see what I want them to see.
So, instead of re-scaling I decided to perform the show on film. I 
quickly realized that a filmed live show was a sorry excuse for the 
flat screen, so i made what I call a real film with those puppets. I 
re-conceived everything so the camera, the light, the background 
elements could move-they were alive and not stationary; the puppet's 
eye, shoe, hand, etc could be individually seen and felt by the 
viewer and discovered that with film, something very small can become 
very big-- a new paradigm for me. Then when it is projected on a big 
screen, they really seem indeed larger than life-- much more than 2x 
human scale. So this is a nice way to do "small" yet it becomes big. 
The trick here is learning the difference between a film and a puppet 
show. I'm still learning.
      But when thinking of scale please consider the audience first 
and foremost. Not seeing clearly reminds me of reading a good book 
when I have forgotten or misplaced my glasses. I can make out the 
words with great effort by decoding most words, but I can barely 
string their meaning together to allow me the impact of the message.

Steven Barr

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