So here they are! Outside, running about, causing mischief! In these rehearsals we experimented with the hatchlings, finding focus, detail of walk and breath. Each hatchling has emerged with their own character and we can start to see how the Lyma Birds interact with one another. From SQUARKS! to MAWWS! to CAWWS! we were able to build a language of noise and sound that belonged to the Lyma Bird.
We also worked further on the relationship between Dr. Newbury and the mother bird, tightening the opening of the show. We were also at the end of the day able to take them outside and roam around a local park (to the confusion of the locals!), this gave us an idea how they might work outside on unpredictable terrain.
Just a few little tweaks and we are ready to premiere at Medway Fuse Festival!
Over these days we started the long and very hairy process of attaching the fur to the puppets. The extra long faux fur made cutting and shaping each piece a little tricky - but it also means that the seams do not need to be the neatest things in the world: so swings and roundabouts! We also finished carving all of the hatchlings heads whilst glueing in place the mechanisms that would control the mouths of the hatchlings.
Tomorrow we will have some hatchlings running round the website...exciting!!!
In our second round of rehearsals we were joined by a new member, the Mother Lyma Bird! Trying to walk and move with our new feathery friend was quite a task and a few bruises and some sore muscles were incurred along the way.
We focused our time on finding a controlled and sustainable rhythm between the puppeteer and 12 foot puppet. We all practiced walking around the rehearsal space with different speeds, exploring the extremities of the neck and head movements and not forgetting squawking, plenty of bird screeching!
We went through a catalogue of bird noises in different states of activity, such as resting, feeding, fighting and foraging. We experimented with many different types of bird calls on each other and eventually merged them with traits of human behaviour. For example, what does a Peruvian Parrot sound like when it laughs? Or mumbles? Or even burps?
Mixing all our discoveries together enabled us to develop a presentation between Dr. Newbury and her favourite Lyma Bird, in which the well respected ornithologist explains the plight of the endangered species. However, we still need to find the answer to the lost hatchlings, some audience participation may have to be organised for the third round of rehearsals!
Over these 2 days we continued with the construction of the necks and feet. The Lyma Bird Mother's feet were carved out of foam and then covered in Renoflex (a tough sheet material that gets flexible when heated used predominately for shoe and boot construction) to create a hard shell. This sheet will then allow the puppeteer to were the feet almost like a shoe...so in fact we are using a material for the purpose it is designed for, a rare occasion in puppet building!
We were also working on the mechanisms for the heads. The mother bird will have two levers one to move the head up and down and another to open and close the mouth. The extra head articulation will allow more freedom with the range of expression from the mother bird. For the hatchlings we only gave them mouth articulation has the puppeteer only has one hand controlling the head. We linked up the hatchling's mechanisms with piano wire, and this gives strong lever control so that the mouth can be opened and closed with as little effort as possible.
Day 8: Workshop – “Puppet Makers Assemble (it’s been a long day)”
After travelling from literally 2 corners of the South East of England the whole construction team has been bought together for this week’s build. Today we have been carving the feet out of foam. This will allow the feet to bend when being puppeteered so the puppeteers do not trip. The wing mechanisms are coming together that will allow for a little flapping of the wings. The necks have been started and strung with elastic to allow them to fall into a “flamingo-like” curve.
We ordered shed ton of fur and feathers for all the birds, which will cover the entire bodies, necks and heads. This was a fun thing to do, although a little weakening on the budget! We also finalized the details of the heads today and will start to construct them tomorrow!
And for the interest of keeping with the avengers theme, these are the roles we will be playing for the next week:
Bex – The Hulk (Driving forward but a little clumsy, and will be mostly absent)
Invi - Iron Man (Master of mechanisms and bolting components together)
Jess – Thor (Handy with a hammer and electric tools, wide knowledge of things with blonde hair)
Peter – Captain America (Planning ahead for things, ordering materials and…tall with blonde/brown hair)
Camilla – Black Widow (Mad skills with carving knifes and has black hair)
Sam – Hawkeye (Watching thing from afar)
This blog details our step by step process of how we create shows, puppets and bring everything together.