Friday, February 10, 2017

Bruce Schwartz

I have to admit, I've never really been into this style of puppetry. It just never quite clicked with me. Today I discovered Bruce Schwartz and it hit me hard! In this piece, he did on the Muppet Show (accompanied by Cleo Laine), a man, or... seemingly gender neutral person, is lamenting their recently departed lover. It's just heartbreaking and by far the most sophisticated thing I've ever seen on this program.

Sometimes I get very frustrated with what's going on with puppetry these days. But when I see videos like this, it reminds me of my earliest experiences with the art form and how enchanted I was, and why I'm still chasing that thing today.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Deeper Past

It really all began in Florida around 2006. Well, I had already been puppeteering for Disney for four years by that point, but I mean in regard to my own work. I think I was asked by either Jamie Donmoyer or Heather Henson if I'd like to do a something for the variety night at the Orlando Puppet Festival. My brother Caleb and I came up with a piece called Helvetia 1965. It went over much better than we expected. Then the following years we did sequels  - Helvetia 1966 and 1967. It was very easy to perform (just a puppet in my jacket - most simple set up of all) so whenever Heather or Jamie were doing a gallery show or anything like that they'd invite me to do it. 

Here's a photo of me and Marina (an old friend who played the first incarnation of the bird puppet) having one of our picnics. We used to buy a "fancy" (cheap) bottle of wine and take our old national geographic books to the lake when there was nice weather (rare in florida!). There was a little lighthouse at the end of a peninsula that had electricity for our record player. It all seems so typical looking back, but at the time we felt very cut off from the world.

One of those random performances - this one at the Orlando Museum of Art. It was either a photo of the sound check or no one showed up!

This was the final performance. Part of the IBEX Puppet showcase at the Orlando Fringe festival. My friend April Tennyson filled in all the parts (and did a terrific job). We did all three pieces, spread out between the other acts of the night. Whoever was controlling the lights gave us a beautiful sky background. It was a great way to end it. I don't think we'll ever perform it again.

I thought for a long time that we actually couldn't perform it because I accidentally gave all the audio to a friend in Ireland and I thought it had just been lost forever. But Caleb just found a backup in a shoe box a month ago. It's interesting to listen to, especially since we've done some much since then. But still, I think it's best to leave it undisturbed.

When we moved to New York years later we tried to revive it and made this one video called Please Take Your Shoes Off When You Come Over To My House:

We wanted to do more with it, but it never came together until years later when we started Creatures of Yes. It may be interesting for viewers to know that Denver was actually the first fully formed character.