Sunday, November 30, 2008
On plays and puppets and the like
Elephants and people. Seems to be the talk of the town at the moment. Well, with Val and Tam anyway.
So how does one make a play that shows the importance of conserving wildlife to people whose lives are threatened and whose crops are destroyed daily by elephants? To balance it out without sounding too preachy, to weave together all the different points of view and at the same time of course making it exciting and fun to watch?
Well, I think we did it. I hope so anyway. We spent about two months researching in all the villages where we'll be performing so hopefully it'll be based in enough reality to have an impact. It's a fun play. Serious but fun. Big issue of course. VERY complicated and political and controversial. The play is full of fun images and humour and great songs. They were still rehearsing when I left, finishing up making props and such, so I haven't actually seen how it will go down but I'll hear soon enough…..
Props. Simon has been working on this elephant. Simon has a special brain. He will sit and think of a prop, an image, a problem and come up with the most fantastic solution. Our plays are very visual while keeping the props simple and clever and Simon is a master at this. We had a fabulous Australian puppeteer, Sandy, come and spend a few months with us once and she taught us how to make various kinds of puppets. Everyone made fantastic and weird and wonderful puppets but Simon? Simon made this amazing, gorgeous COMPLICATED child with strings and pulleys and all sorts. And Sandy was gobsmacked.
We managed to scrape together some money to go and watch the Lion King in South Africa. This time Simon was gobsmacked.
Anyway, so we've had a few different elephant images in our plays over the years but this time decided to try something new. I didn't see the finished product but Simon sat very still and alone for a long time with a stick in a patch of sand, drawing, rubbing it out, drawing something else, frowning, smiling, enjoying the puzzle. By the time I left he had the head made, with a mechanism for the ears and the trunk as well as a sort of overalls thing for him to wear with a perfect elephant-knee movement.
So I'm back. Had a great trip and will write more on it soon soon....