Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

If genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, what makes these leading slam artists sweat?
Nasty, Brutish & Short: a Puppet Cabaret #Chicago - Davey K, Ian Fullerton, Stephen Lieto, 2011 Photo: Links Hall
Deborah Hunt, curator of Sobre la Mesa #SanJuan
The shortness of time inspires me. To create a succinct piece that adds to an evening’s intrigue gets my juices going.

Valerie Meiss, curator of the Wham Bam Puppet Slam #Asheville
beauty, chaos, unfinished stories in my head, songs, friends of mine, relationships, odd facts I recall from history class... anything and everything!

Alissa Hunnicut, guest curator of New Brew #Brooklyn
For me it almost always starts with a song.  Something that when I hear the song I "see" something, usually a moment, a single image that becomes the jumping off point visually.

Lana Schwarcz, curator of Slam Noir #Melbourne
I was inspired by attending the National Puppet Slam in Atlanta when I visited in 2011. I saw the great work that was created by the themed slams in the US and the strong community that it created, and I started to feel upset that we didn't have that same sense of community here in Australia. 

Alexander Winfield, curator of the Pirate Puppet Cabaret #London
Inspiration can come from many sources: a banal occurrence seen while walking home, a dream, a piece from a history book. Who knows? Inspiration is a funny beast.

Carole D’Agostino, performer-at-large #NYC
Different things. One of the most common questions I get is “What style do you work in?” This depends on the story I need to tell. I have a peacock marionette that was inspired by a trip to a sculpture garden. My shadow show about science was developed at the Puppet Playlist, so music inspired that one. My old show about Icarus was inspired by my father's death. It's all life based, like anything. I won't just throw a piece together for nothing though. All of my shows are storyboarded, well rehearsed and have something valuable to offer the audience.

Beau Brow, curator of the  Puckin’ Fuppet Show  #Atlanta 
For me it was crucial to have a deadline. I would love to be the kind of artist who is inspired to build puppets and write shows because it just came to me, but I’m not.  I have to sit down, usually with someone else and say, “Okay we need a show.”  The structure of the slams gives me the kick in the pants and I need to write something.  Since puppetry is the synthesis of all art forms (visual art, voice, and movement), it opens so many doors to so many different kinds of artists.  Puppetry allows us to tell any story we can imagine… ANY. The possibilities are truly endless. The only other art form that I think allows that is animation.  I would love to have the patience to do animation, but I don’t.  So puppetry allows me to tell those stories. However most of those stories aren’t an hour long.  So how else can I get them front of a live audience? Puppet Slam. 

Evan O'Television, host of Blood from A Turnip #Providence
I wish I knew where my ideas came from so that I might burn a fire under them and become magically way more prolific.   Most of my ideas are about situations I can imagine the TV and I struggling with onstage.  If you have seen any of my performances, it's pretty clear that they are all built around a some performance goal that is thwarted or that the TV and I ultimately become distracted from in some way, or ultimately fail at. 

I also always like to play with breaking the audience boundaries and pursuing new ways to interact with the audience, because the more I do that, the less restricted and trapped I feel by the fact that I am performing with a recording.  Finally, in recent years, I have looked for new ways that circumstantially or plot-wise my live-performer character can sometimes get the upper hand or grab some power from the TV, because the Evan on the television is so often the more charismatic comedic star of my show.   I like to occasionally have the straight-man win one

Jessica Simon, curator of Nasty, Brutish & Short: A Puppet Cabaret #Chicago
I'm inspired by (and a bit jealous of) Connor Hopkins and Carolin Reck down in Austin [hosts of Austin Puppet Incident].  Not only are they creating awesome long-form work, but they've created a great little puppetry community that works together creating short pieces for their slams.  From what I understand they host regular open shop nights and anyone who wants to can come in try something out.  I'd love to have a regular workshop time for people to collaborate.  There is somewhat of a community here in Chicago, and it's growing [with Puppet Meltdown], but I'd love to mix it up even more and have a dedicated time and place for people to come together.  

Special thanks to Paul Eide from Puppetry Journal for helping to edit this entry.

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