File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 277

To: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 16:59:48 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Skill Sets

I enjoy this topic a lot.

It's been scratching in my head for a while.

I'll start with two very on-topic examples.
THen I'll include a personal experience.

I witnessed companies create mind boggling results with the skill sets they 
Two examples that come to mind:

-Garin Trousseboeuf, a puppet company from France.
Instead of going the way of complex puppets with many articulations and 
limbs, they invented their own style of puppets. No small feat! Through 
their wonderful intimate shows and the workshops they give, their bag 
puppets are already spreading accross the globe and will become a classic, 
in the same right as glove puppets.  This company is small, the puppets are 
small, the shows are for intimate audiences, but with great impact.   Small 
can bring big inspiration, big impact. They proved it.
They are an example of what can be done if we truly use all our strengths, 
and complement them with compatible talents we outsource.

-Thé=E2tre de La Pire Esp=E8ce, a puppet company from Montreal.
They made the show that broke my ridiculous mental block about object 
They convinced me, in less than 5 minutes, that objects could be just as 
appealing as puppets, given the right puppeteers.  These guys were not 
trained as puppeteers. They chose everyday objects and gave them life. They 
just did it, worked hard, and made it happen.
Their show "Ubu sur la table" has become an internationally acclaimed gem, 
and for good reason.
They used their talents as performers, their tendencies to break the fourth 
wall, their irreverrance and humor, and were able to make shows that have 
deep meaning, and high entertainement values.
And with all this, they give their time and energies to improve the local 
Theater industry.
Link to the show I was refering to, with pics:

Main page:

A personal testimony about limited skills:

Feelings of inadequacy were slowing my progress constantly when I first 
I had no training, official or otherwise.
I had no contacts.  I had never seen a pro puppet show.
Yet I knew it was what I wanted to do, and to be.
I knew from the moment I completed my first satisfying puppet.
I had been training, unknowingly, to be a puppetmaker and performer 
(although it took me years as a maker to find out I was also a performer). 
All the failed artistic pieces I had never had the perseverance to finish 
were suddenly obvious training exercises. One success made it clear that the 
failures were knowledge and experience.
I felt, upon completion of that first puppet, a feeling of satisfaction and 
pride and completeness that I had never had before, not as a person, not as 
an artist. I was complete.
So of course, I had to pursue it with all I had, though it seemed rather a 
small baggage.

I dared. I made a portfolio of all the small things I thought might show 
some possibilities.
One completed puppet. A few polymer clay figurines. Lots of drawings and 
I sent it t all the puppet companies I knew about in my province, and two 
outside of it.
I got three responses. One to congratulate me on the portfolio (but they 
weren't hiring).
Two that wanted to see me for an interview. One hired me for my first 
contract. That's how it all started.  Limited skills and financial means 
meant I had to work extremely hard, and fast, to solve the problems within 
the deadline. I learned a lot!

I believe having limited means and resources forces us to use our 
Otherwise we fail.
So limitations can be a great asset...?
It's hard to believe, but I lived it and still do.

I think it may be a necessary step in one's evolution.
But after a time, we should consiously move on to a state of abundance. No 
matter how many skills and resources we may have at our disposal, we'll 
always have technical problems to solve, materials we might not be able to 
afford,  and time limits.
That time we spent struggling with next-to-nothing will have thought us to 
do mircales with what we have access to. So we won't get lost in the 
distractions a huge budget and apparently unlimited resources can bring.

We'll still tell a good story.
That's what Puppetry is about, for me.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steven Barr" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 2:52 PM
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Skill Sets

Skill sets

Combining the talents and skills of many individuals is what allowed
Henson=92s company to put Puppetry on the map in the USA and allowed for a
rebirth of Commercial puppetry abroad. Even in the live theatre arena,
combining skills of others with a proper regard for viability is a great
formula for artistic (and $) success (Vince Anthony=92s Center in Atlanta
comes to mind). The Entrepreneur cannot be understated in this recipe for
the successful modern puppeteer. But the difference is if one wants to
remain solo or not. To be solo is a lonely road and it may be a choice for
some (it was mine for many years) but an emotional necessity for others.
Many puppeteers just don=92t work well with others=85 and those people may be
forced to do many things on their own, most often with mixed results.
Hopefully the 'solo need' stems from the intense desire to =93say=94 something
that can only be said by one individual person. Sometimes this is just how
some of us find our =93voice=94. Working with others requires an unusual amount
of patience and tolerance and letting go of our egos in a way that is often
"just too hard to do" and the results can be far from what we had originally
planned and therefore a disappointment.

The key is to  have a clear VISION (clairvoyance) before one begins=97either
for a solo road or one where many people=92s skills are correctly and
beautifully orchestrated. I am believer in the collective creation as long
as there is clear and articulated vision.

Steven Ritz-Barr
Classics in Miniature, inc
The Metropolitan Puppet Authority, a non-profit
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