Friday, 29 August 2008

I-Fest Inspiration, the final roundup!

OK so for those of you who didn’t go to I-Fest… or don’t have any intention of going I appreciate my last 5 blogs will have been of little interest to you. However I think the basic topics of the blogs could be applied to any puppet festival. For instance for the last two years I have been to the May Fayre (the celebration of Mr Punch’s birthday) in Covent Garden. I have been inspired and excited by puppets I have seen there… also I have met people who have inspired me and in some cases revolutionised the way I build and perform my puppets. So don’t get too hung up on the festival, look at the principals.

If I were to list my inspirations I may not be able to finish this blog post this week… so I will give you some potted highlights.
Dave and June Privett run Playsoup. They are both fantastic performers and Dave is a very talented puppet builder! Simply if you haven’t checked out there work you need to!
Todd and Amie Leibenow are the new owners of One Way Street. Todd is a great performer and he also voices many of the pre-recorded scripts released by OWS.
David Simpich wasn’t at I-Fest this year… but I have been fortunate enough to see him perform a couple of times. He is a marionette artist, and an exceptional one at that. It’s great to see someone filling theatres with an “out of favour” form of puppetry. I hope to see him perform again soon.
Christy Watkins (POWER Company) was the Dream Team director the first year I was on the Dream Team. She is a great puppet Director who adds a professional touch to any show. Christy retired from directing the POWER Company this year (the team that taught Todd Leibenow) but she plans to continue teaching at regional festivals in the US and hopefully the UK to.
I think it’s important that whoever you are and whatever you achieve you still look around you and allow yourself to get inspired by other artists and performers. I look forward to meeting more inspiring individuals in the weeks and months ahead!

Take care – Dave

Monday, 25 August 2008

I-Fest roundup 4 (only one more to go)

The thing that really makes experiences like I-Fest special is the people you meet and the friendships you make. As always it was great to meet up with friends from all over the USA who we would never normally get to meet up with. Dave and June Privett, Todd and Amy Liebenow, Paul and Christine Morley to name but a few. This year however we travelled all the way to Chicago and spent the majority of our time with a Puppet team from Essex! Essex is just an hours drive from home… so we certainly took the scenic route to meet up with Smile Puppet Ministry. John and Ella Havell lead Smile Puppet Ministry. There are a really active puppet team who perform all over the world. I am really looking forward to meeting up with John and Ella now we’re all back in the UK. It is one of those strange situations… I knew John and Ella before I-Fest, I think I first met them about 6 years ago, but I had never really worked with them on anything. John and I were both conference assistants over the week and really hit it off. John has an automatic head start in life – he is a Spurs fan!

Here you can see being very long-suffering enduring one more of my many stories. Hopefully within the next couple of months I will be able to bring you more about Smile, as we are hoping to meet up towards the end of the summer.

All the best – Dave

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Puppet Gladiators... I-Fest roundup 3

One Way Street staff Ryan Spittler and Branden Treu created a brand new event competition for I-Fest 2008: Puppet Gladiators!

The contest brought about some great drama and was really a great addition to the festival feel of the week. The two gladiator rod style puppets are equipped with a sword in one hand and shield in the other. As far as my memory serves me the joints of the hands, elbows, shoulders and necks are held together by magnets. The point of the game being once combat starts you aim to “disarm” or behead your opponent, whilst keeping your own gladiator in tact. Sadly I was leading workshops during the preliminary rounds of competition so I couldn't join in the contest, but it certainly looked like great fun!

I have tried to search the Internet for clips… I know someone who was watching the event would have put it on YouTube. Above you can see the best clip I could find.

All the best – Dave

Friday, 15 August 2008

I-Fest report 2

OK - yes I realise that there has been a long wait for this... what can I say? I've been kinda busy.
Right where were we?

So at the beginning of July I posted a blog from I-Fest, I can't honestly say if this was me writing up my workshop notes or me blogging... but this is certainly me on the computer at I-Fest! During the week I was working as a Conference Assistant and a workshop leader. I have lead lots of workshops in the UK and quite a few around Europe as well but I had never taught in the USA before and for some reason I found myself to be very nervous. I think this was because I-Fest has played a huge part in my puppetry career and many of the "defining moments" I can think of in my puppetry experience all happened there.

I am pleased to report that the workshops went a lot better than I had expected them to go. By the end of the week the "Getting to grips with Arm Rods" class I lead went so well I would rank it alongside some of my best ever workshops... which was nice. This pic shows me mid flow in the workshop was really fun. I had prepared this workshop just for I-Fest and actually turned out so well it will be a workshop that I will teach more often.
For some reason when I first said I went to I-Fest some people emailed me saying "but aren't you English?" ...Well yes I am, but my wife and I travelled out to Chicago specially for it. BUT if you are in the UK or Europe and you would like to be part of something similar to I-Fest with great puppetry teaching and lots of resources available I recommend you make an effort to get to the European Puppet Ministry Festivals in either Reading or Derby this year! I will be teaching at both and we are expecting to have a great time. Check One Way UK's website for details.
Take care - Dave