File spoon-archives/puptcrit.archive/puptcrit_1999/puptcrit.9902, message 18

Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 03:10:24 EST
Subject: PUPT: Re: About International Touring

Dear Puppeteers,
	I was asked a number of questions regarding International Touring by a small
puppet company contemplating touring.  Following is my reply for any of you
who might want to wade through all this.  If you are not interested, JUST
	I've been fortunate over the years to do a lot of International Touring,
usually  under sponsorship of an organization or booked through an agent (for
some organizations), or for a festival of some sort.  Two weeks ago, for
example I went to Honduras to perform for the victims of Hurricane "Mitch" but
it was sponsored by a foundation and TV talk show hostess.  The San Diego ABC-
TV (CH 10) affiliate station sent a camera crew to create a four-part report
on the trip and my shows.  My appearances in Iran were at the invitation of
the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Iran Puppetry org.  My
shows in Singapore were part of the fringe festival and sponsored by a
shopping center, but booked by one of my agents.  In Hong Kong last year, I
played theaters, booked by an agent.  Others from my company performed in
Japan & again in Singapore in 1998, & these connections were made from
pervious tours.  In 1988, I was invited to perform for the International Unima
festival in Japan.  Thereafter, I was invited to Korea and other places by
puppeteers and organizers who saw me in Japan.  Earlier, I did tours for
Continental Airlines to Micronesia, New Zealand and Australia as a promotional
tour...and even in the Viet Nam refugee camps on Guam.  In South America while
in college, I went to South America as part of a Methodist Youth Caravan.  So
you see, I've had many different trips, some due to previous trips,
appearances at other festivals, and some booked by my agents.  But I've been
doing this a long time, and have many contacts.  Upcoming....I've been invited
to Bulgaria and Viet Nam, and will tour again in June 99 in Japan....for a
different organization from previous tours, but arranged by a person who is
now retired from the earlier organization, now working with a new company.
	It's always nicer to be invited than to try to do it on your own.  If you
have Italian connections and family, write to them and tell them you would
like to perform. Maybe they can set up a tour...If you are fairly new at this,
you might just ask for ground transporation, room and board, and small
honorarium to cover costs.  I have done tours (even to Honduras) where I was
paid nothing, but gave my time in exchange for a trip.  Sometimes, I've had to
pay my own way over, and sometimes I've been able to get a sponsor to
underwrite my airfare in exchange for promos...(The LA Music Center was listed
as a sponsor for my first tour to Japan to perform for the UNIMA Festival.)
For all other Japanese tours, the sponsor  paid me and covered airfare and
ground transporation as well as room and board.
	Language is a major consideraton, but playing in English can be an advantage
if the audience might be studying English.  I've studied Japanese for 10
years, and perform entirely in Japanese while in Japan.  But sometimes, they
request that I use English as well.  In Iran, I mixed Turkish, Farsi, French,
German and one spoke Japanese there.  I've tried to choose
material that is not "culture dependent" nor dependent of clever play on
words, slang or comedy...stuff that is not universally understood.  I have
watched too many disastrous shows in Hungarian, Georgian or Vietnamese
languages playing to Japanese, Korean or English-speaking audiences. Best to
study the culture in advance so as not to present something offensive.  It is
a mistake to force the audience to sit through a play that is unintelligable
to them.  With marionette variety acts, even pulled together in a some
theme...e.g., A Circus's not so important to speak the language
fluently.  You may want to create a sound track on tape in the language of the
country visited.  We created a Cantonese version of "Peter and the Wolf" for
my tour there...I performed to musical cues, but the sound came out in
	It varies from country to country, but touring aboard sometimes requires work
permits...usually obtained by the sponsor.  Iran required a special visa (but
the paperwork was generated by the ministry of culture).  If you're going for
a festival, then it's a cultural exchange and no permits are normally
required.  For customs, I claim these are home-made dolls for my "hobby."
Carnets are expensive and the paperwork is interminable. Depending upon the
time of year and location, yes..some venues are outside.  In answer to your
question re: fees.  You should determine your costs first, then factor in
items that may be supplied by a sponsor or by several sponsors...meals,
hotels, ground transportation, etc.  I usually receive the same fees abroad as
I would get at home...but these are not birthday party fees, but rather
theater venue fees.  My programs are 50-60 minutes, for families and with no
intermission.  Some cultures are used to 30 min, intermission & another 30
min.  My shows play better straight through...but the intermission does sell
video tapes.
	Air travel requires a lot of forethought.  Shipping containers that exceed
airline baggage limitations can cost a bundle to send.  Sometimes it's cheaper
to buy a second airline ticket (to use the baggage allowance) then pay for
each extra piece of luggage (or box of puppets.)  Since deregulation, not all
airlines charge the same, nor allow the same maximum size and weight
dimensions.  Airline consolidators offer the cheapest seats, as well as
Internet-purchased tickets.  Serving as a courier is another way to get a
cheap ticket abroad, but couriers give up their baggage allowance...this is
how the courier system works.  Cargo is flown cheaper as baggage, then as
unaccompanied cargo.
	I hope this has answered some of your questions.  In fact, there may be
others also interested in this stuff, so I'll post it on the bulletin board
for any who are interested.  Good Luck, Jim Gamble

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