File puptcrit/puptcrit.0909, message 342


To: "puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org" <puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 10:07:19 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Big Man ...in Scotland


Well, it's not so much ripping off Royal De Luxe as connecting to the tradition of giant puppets that has been very strong across Europe since medieval times.  Giant puppets were all over England (I'm not sure about Scotland) in the 16th century.  See for example the book "Gog and Magog: The Giants of Guildhall", which F. W. Fairholt wrote in the 19th century--it's recently been reprinted and it's a fantastic book!

But the medieval Spanish, French, Netherlands, Italian, and other folks who built giant puppets were coming to this after (I believe) Indian puppeteers in South Asia had been building giant parading figures for Ramlila and other community festivals.  And of course the Zuni people in what is now southwestern U.S. have long built giant (self-supporting) Shalako puppets... 
So, with puppetry we are perhaps always ripping off some preceding work.  I think it's really worth our while to know that giant puppets didn't start with Royal Deluxe or Bread and Puppet, but are in fact much older than that...

(DIATRIBE: AS PUPPETEERS WE NEED TO KNOW THIS--IT'S OUR OWN HISTORY; WE MUST EDUCATE OURSELVES ABOUT THE GLOBAL PRECEDENTS TO OUR WORK--IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO KNOW AND WILL HELP US FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE PUPPET PERFORMANCES IN THE FUTURE.)

Critique of the Scots Big Man: too bad this huge blue puppet made of plastic and metal needs that big fork lift to hold it up!  Even the old Ramlila figures of India were self-supporting, so the illusion of an independent giant was complete!  There are beautiful wicker structures (lightweight, easy to manipulate) that French, Spanish, and Belgian communities have developed for giant puppet manipulation since at least the 16th century!  The idea that a giant puppet needs to be a marionette (i.e., that an even taller structure or machine is needed to suspend the puppet) seems to me unfortunate.  It is the way Royal Deluxe designed Gulliver and the Little Girl.  It's also the way giant puppets are portrayed in "Being John Malkovitch"--i.e., the highly impractical giant Emily Dickinson marionette supposedly operated from a highway bridge.  See also the fake giant puppet suspended from helicopters in the viral Levi's commercials on Youtube a year or so ago.

In other words, I think self-supporting giant puppets are far more interesting and have many more possibilities for performance.  If we are not unaware of existing giant puppet practices we can figure out what possibilities there are and decide for ourselves what we think works best!

Dr. John T. Bell
Director
Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
University of Connecticut
6 Bourn Place Unit 5212
Storrs, Connecticut=A0 06269-5212
office: 860 486 0806
cell: 617 599 3250
www.bimp.uconn.edu

To make a contribution to the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, please go to
https://secure.ga4.org/01/uconn_foundation_giving, and select "Ballard Puppetry Museum" from the "Purpose" list.  Thanks for your support!

-----Original Message-----
From: puptcrit-bounces-AT-puptcrit.org [mailto:puptcrit-bounces-AT-puptcrit.org] On Behalf Of Hobey Ford
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 8:12 AM
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Big Man ...in Scotland

Well Simon,  I have to agree.  But imitation is the first step.  It
makes me happy that someone would go to the trouble of making a giant
puppet go for a  walk across a country.  Isn't it the same with all
imitation, whether it is derivative of Muppets, Bread and Puppet, Bil
Baird, Julie Taymor or anything.  I recall early on, wanting to copy
my mentor so badly that I almost moved across the country so I could
shamelessly do it.  What a relief when one finally gets there own muse
and creates original work.  Sometimes that begins with imitation.
http://www.ciag.org/opencms/en/seccions/index.html   Here is a website
of giant puppets.  It is certainly not something that Royal de Luxe
can say they invented, though I have to say they are the best at it
from what I have seen.  Henson once said, "its all been done before".

On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 2:17 AM, Simon Palmer
<simon-AT-illustrated-history.net> wrote:
> Isn't this just a bad Royal de Luxe rip off? There, I said it...
>
>
> On 23 Sep 2009, at 22:13, Hobey Ford wrote:
>
>> Here is more video in Big Man
>>
>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/paulinemclean/2009/09/
>> big_man_cometh.html
>>
>> On Sun, Sep 20, 2009 at 10:31 AM, Steve Axtell <steve-AT-axtell.com>
>> wrote:
>>> A 26 foot tall "Big Man"puppet , birthed from an
>>> old legend and Arts money, will be walking around Scotland soon...
>>>
>>> http://members.bigmanwalking.com/
>>>
>>> http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/
>>> stage/theatre/article6841101.ece
>>>
>>> Ax
>>>
>>>
>>> Steve Axtell
>>> Axtell Expressions, Inc.
>>> =A0http://www.axtell.com
>>> ****************************************
>>> Amazing Puppets & Magic
>>> Twitter : Steve_Axtell
>>> []
>>>
>>>
>>> The original content of this email or attachment is =A9 Axtell
>>> Expressions, Inc.
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