File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 480

To: <>
Date: Sat, 29 Nov 2008 09:59:52 -0600
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] making puppets fast

Making puppets fast - hey, just don't feed them!

> From:
> To:
> Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2008 23:26:35 +0000
> Subject: [Puptcrit] making puppets fast
> Deadlines should play a part. And will the finished puppet be able to do what its minimum needs are (for movements and plots, script or choreography?) Things can alway be further developed later, but you have to start with SOMETHING.
> Opening the show on time is important. One perfectionist I know has regularly opened  shows 2 or 3 days late, yet rebuilt one bird puppet up to 16 times or so, when any one of the 16 versions would have been adequate, and superior to most made by others. You can always replace, remake later or otherwise adjust later.
> We have spoken of ergonomics/easy  handling of puppets which are well designed, and which will prevent injuries (short term or permanent) which is a very good reason for making a new figure after the show opens---that too is part of "getting the bugs out of a show", ie: correcting three-dimensional flaws as well as script, set, costume or directorial flaws---you want to get past  permanently unfnished work.
> On the other hand, simplicity can be finished looking---especially when simplicity part of the original concept.
> Many times puppetry beginners make the mistake of being too complicated the first time out and, the result is a disaster ending up in a storage closet or dumpster. On a trip to Alaska, long ago, I heard of such misadventure. No point on aiming for the impossible because that usually means the last time puppetry will be used by such people.
> In a time of increasing technology, simplicity in  actual reality can be a novelty for audiences.
> If a more complicated approach pays off, then go ahead if time allows. Paul Walton & Michael O'Rourke might have 35 or so strings on a marionette, but they all served a purpose, so there were good reasons. But it takes longer to learn to operate complicated puppet.
> Vent dummies can have just a movng mouth. Added features not only cost more, but in the right hands can bring the figure more to life, but in the wrong hands, wiggly ears, moving eyebrows, flipping wigs or twisting mouths, spitting tubes, smoke FX, closing/opening yelids, moving noses, real wet tears can be a waste of effort and money.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christopher Hudert
> Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2008 1:49 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] making puppets fast
> On Nov 23, 2008, at 10:56 AM, wrote:
> > People are fascinated with "how long it takes" ... we've all gotten 
> > this question...I wonder, why? I also wonder, has anyone curbed or 
> > increased their time making puppets recently -- and why?=EF=BF=BD
>     I think people are intrigued by something out of their ken. I answer 
> this question first much like I did about putting on the clown makeup 
> when I was in the circus - I always takes exactly how much time I have. 
> Part of this is contained in a favorite quote: "Finished is Better Than 
> Perfict." Sometimes it is much better to be done than to have it 
> exactly perfect. As it will never be exactly perfect, it is better to 
> settle with some minor flaws and declare it "done" than to keep working 
> on that perfection. Plus it is likely that the audience will never 
> notice those "flaws" that I've been obsessing about. I find, too, that 
> projects -  just like putting on the clown make up - will often expand 
> to fill the time allowed. Truth is a comfortable rate for putting on my 
> clown make up is about 20 minutes, but I've gone from street clothes to 
> full costume and make up in as little as 3 minutes, and often take 30 
> minutes or more if I have the time. For puppets I explain there is not 
> quite the same rule of thumb, as it depends greatly on the type, style, 
> scale, and so on. Add to that any research you need to do and keep 
> referring to during the process. A puppet can take a few dollars and a 
> few minutes to create, or thousands of dollars and weeks to create.
>    Sometimes the quickest, cheapest, least complicated puppet can be 
> more effective than something from the opposite end of the spectrum. 
> Sometimes it's the puppet, sometimes the performer. For me, the puppet 
> is the instrument. Hand a Strat to a novice violin player and you're 
> not automatically going to get magical music, but often a gifted 
> musician can create magic with the least of instruments. So too, the 
> puppet. I've experienced magic from improvised puppets in the right 
> hands, disappointment from wondrous puppets in the wrong hands, and 
> just about everything in between. Puppetry is one of the few things 
> that breaks the aphorism of "You can get things cheap, fast, and good - 
> but you can only have two of those at any given time." Because 
> puppetry, like many arts, is such a wide open area, there is no set 
> "how long" or "how much".
>    So, yes, I have both curbed and increased my time in making puppets 
> recently. Many times projects were determined by a deadline. While that 
> is still essentially true, I have also recently worked on some things 
> intentionally working as fast and as cheaply as possible, while still 
> maintaining a standard of quality. The intent was to curb a growing 
> tendency towards more elaborate and involved process and puppets, and 
> to get back to some basics. Part of it was also to challenge myself to 
> work within the confines of a smaller budget of both time and money. 
> But, I've also expanded the time on a couple of puppets to the extent 
> that I don't know if they ever will get finished. Some of this has to 
> do with the fact that they exist in a vacuum. There is no deadline and 
> no show for them. I've even gotten into some and then, not liking the 
> direction they were going, tossed them, which for a pack rat like me is 
> unusual. I have to confess, I'm guess I'm not much of an artist in that 
> respect. I am not driven by the creation of the instrument, so I don't 
> often go to the studio just to create puppets. I'd much rather spend 
> time on concepts, show ideas, writing, and so on.
> Christopher
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