When you shove the puppeteer into the spotlight how do you then pull focus back to the puppet?
The rehearsal space had the luxury of chalk board walls and we took advantage of this rare occasion, that we could draw and write all over the walls in the name of ‘The Black Hoods Cabaret’. It sounds silly but when using the space and resources around you in a different way (a rebellious way) you can kick start your playfulness and open up pools of creativity.
out It’s day one of rehearsals and we are very excited to be working with our first collaborator, Yuldosh Juraboev. With Yuldosh, we wrote out the whole show and analysed and explained every choice we had made previously. We were able to identify areas that needed strengthening and clarity in the objective of some scenes. So we put the show into a long wash cycle and extra high temperature of the dramaturgical washing machine. Don’t worry, the high temperature didn’t shrink any of the larger than life characters you find in ‘The Black Hoods Cabaret’ but what did come out in the wash were the relationships between the puppeteers and puppets.
We make a very bold choice to involve the puppeteers not just for their function to bring life to an inanimate object but for their own agendas which is an interesting complication to watch. This choice came from our decision to poke fun at the puppeteer who strives to remain hidden so not to pull focus from the puppet and when they don’t, it ultimately all goes wrong. However, in our efforts to create humour, we have lost definition in the relationships between puppeteers and puppets. Yuldosh focused on finding more moments of physical comedy between the puppeteers to reveal their downward spiraling relationship without interfering with the puppetry too much. Then we turned our focus to the puppetry observing the quality of movement of each puppet and finding another layer of details in presenting to puppets communicating with each other.
When watching puppetry, I always acknowledge that there is a puppeteer but can easily just focus on the puppet as most people do. However, when making the decision to include the puppeteer as character in the production where they have to swap between playing a role and puppeteering it is harder to maintain highly skillful puppetry and being clear in what the relationship is between that character and that puppet. We found it very useful to ask the following questions:
1.Why are we using puppetry in this moment? 2.Why are we revealing the character of the puppeteer and does this affect their relationship with their puppet?