Thursday, May 17, 2012

Advice for Puppet Slam Artists & Curators

Looking for advice on starting a slam or being a better puppet slam artist? Find out what leading puppet slam curators and performers had to say when we posed the question: What advice do you have for up and coming slam artists or curators who are just starting out? Have something to add? Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Adult Puppet Cabaret #SanDiego, Photo: Kiwi (Craig Brayton)

Evan O’Television - Blood From a Turnip #Providence
Maintain a spirit of adventurousness and experimentation but also never forget the importance of the audience.  What is the journey you are hoping to take them on?  How successful are you?  Whenever experimental work forgets to continuously engage or reward the audience then it misses the inherently conversational nature of live theater and risks being over-indulgent.

Alexander Winifield - Pirate Puppet Cabaret #London 
Don’t be afraid of failing miserably, or looking like an idiot. There is nothing so dangerous, nor full of potential, as a man unafraid of looking like an idiot.  Try not to make a habit of it, is all.

Kat Pleviak - Puppet Meltdown #Chicago 
Make each performance the very best it can be on the day you do it and take pride in your work! Have fun, share work, learn and grow and live!

Deborah Hunt - Sobre La Mesa Puppet Slam
Noches de Cabaret #SanJuan
Just do it!

Enda O. Breadon - Kolohe Puppet Slam #Honolulu
I’d tell them to give me advice.  I am making this shit up as I go and I really have no idea what I’m doing. 

Alissa Hunnicutt - New Brew #Brooklyn

I think a lot of your interview subjects have suggested going to a slam if you're interested in participating in slams. I totally agree.  See what other artists in your area are doing.  It's inspiring.  I am also a huge cheerleader for The National Puppetry Conference at The O'Neill Theater Center.  Your readers hear that name a ton too, I'm sure. The participant pieces that are developed in the evenings are where a lot of the slam content comes from in my circle of peers.  In a few days you are exposed to so many different methods and techniques for creating short form puppetry.  Plus it's a very tight network of puppeteers who have leads on performance opportunities, become fast friends, and it has a very special place in my heart.


Gepetta - Performer-At-Large #Philadelphia

The best advice I was given was from writer/performer Ryka Aoki, while I was on the Tranny Roadshow.  She said something along the lines of if you are nervous you need to channel that energy into the performance. The best performances I have done are when I want to pee my pants a little.


Honey Goodenough - Puppet Pandemic #NYC

Above all, be good to your performers. There can be a lot of stress related to producing an event, but if you want people to continue to work with you it must be worthwhile for the performers. We have to support this art form, from the ground up! So work hard, be kind, and have fun!



Roxie Myhrum - Puppet Showplace Slam #Brookline

Document your work! It's a pain in the ass, but it's well worth it--if a curator can see you looking awesome and rocking it out at one slam, they'll want you to do the same at their venue. Also, see lots of work! It's easy to get stuck in the studio or to be swamped by your own projects.  You'll grow as an artist by getting out more!


Jessica Simon - Nasty, Brutish and Short: A Puppet Cabaret #Chicago

Try and see a lot of stuff, talk to people after shows, ask veterans to do something with you. 


Valeska Populoh - Puppet Slamwich #Baltimore

Go watch a lot of performers. See what makes people laugh and respond. See what works and what doesn't. Don't be discouraged if your first performances flop or have flaws. Keep performing and making more work and seeing more work and talking to other performers in order to learn and grow!


Beau Brown - Puckin’ Fuppet Show #Atlanta

National Puppet Slam #Atlanta

DO IT! Start a slam! Crash an open mic night with your puppets! Make videos! Keep throwing stuff at the wall till it sticks! Something will and it will be awesome!


Valerie Meiss - Wham Bam Puppet Slam #Asheville

Do it! Do it now! And promote it, and promote it as an adult show, so you don't have to deal with upset people. (It shouldn't be a big deal, but sometimes it is.) And have fun with it! And send me an email if you have questions, I feel like I'm able to help out sometimes! And I've asked a bunch of questions myself, so I know whom to recommend.


Carole D'Agostino  - Performer-At-Large #NYC

Go see shows, take notes. Make your own shows and rehearse the heck out of them. When you travel, bring your own tape and extension cords. You have something to learn from everyone- and it's a good idea to be aware. Also, save all your receipts- these events are tax write-offs. This is your career!

Cathy Shaw – Puppet Art Attacks #NYC
The messiest parts are the changeovers. You need someone who will run and organize the changeovers. I like it when all of the participating artists are part of making the event work - it really establishes a community fast.  They should each have a part to do in the changeovers. Then you need someone to carefully go through the pieces with each artist, setting cues in a cue-to-cue fashion, building light and sound cues only - NO RUN THROUGHS! We are able to do 10 or 12 acts in 2 hours and all the cues are executed near perfect in the show. I do that, facilitating communications between the designers and the Stage Manager and the Board Ops and keeping things moving forward.

The artists may not be used to writing out a script (or they might say there isn't any dialogue, or that their piece is easy, just lights up lights down) - but still they have to write out a narrative in advance that the stage manager can use to record her cues (if he/she will be calling the show.) Otherwise the Board Ops need something that they can refer to during the show to jog their memory for the cues. All of the pieces might be easy separately, but put together it is an hour or more show with a lot going on. So, the artists must write a script that the crew can use to record what they need to record to run the cues as efficiently as possible. Even knowing if they will be onstage behind the host frozen to start, or if they will enter in darkness after the host has introduced them - all of this must be written in a script - its all part of how their piece resonates--so they should take care of every single detail and write it in a script they can give people who will execute cues for their piece.  They should get it to you in advance. Digital is best because the Stage Manager can format it just the way they like to write in cues.

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