Saturday, 10 July 2010

I-Fest 2010 - Friday

So yesterday was my favourite day of I-Fest so far! last night we had two fantastic feature performances, one by Maegan Bruce and another by Ferrel Marr. Both of these performances were very different from the rest of the feature performances of the week - not least in terms of the number of performers, but also in terms of style of delivery. Every time I come to I-Fest there is one night when I watch a performance and say to myself "that is what I came to I-Fest for"... last night was that night for me.

Maegan Bruce is a ventriloquist, puppeteer and artist. Her ventriloquism and puppetry were technically excellent, but that wasn't really what caught my eye... she finished her performance with a brilliant piece of painting. It was fantastic. What stuck out to me was not the technical or artistic ability with which she painted but the fact that you could see that she was doing it with a raw, honest passion. I love the fact that sometimes the simplest things can make the biggest impact.

Ferrel Marr's performance similarly blew me away. You know when you have a family get together there is always that relative who has the rest of the family eating out of their hand when they tell a story, seemingly without making any effort? Well last night Ferrel did that to I-Fest! A beautiful mix of marionettes, puppets, blacklight painting and song made up his beautiful patchwork performance.

Both performers last night did not have any real glitz or glamour about what they did, they didn't have a massive show stopping routine with hundreds of performers involved... but they were true to themselves and they did what they wanted to do, excellently! If there was an object lesson hiding in the feature presentations last night it would have been: don't ever try and be who you're not, be yourself - you have a unique gift.

Each one of us has a unique gift and we should all be different when we perform, after all variety is the spice of life :) Don't ever feel under pressure to emulate someone else because their style is more popular than yours. Both Maegan and Ferrel performed brilliantly engaging pieces last night with techniques others people wouldn't think twice about using... it was great to see!

This is my last blog about I-Fest "on location"... I hope you've enjoyed them.
Take care - Dave

Friday, 9 July 2010

I-Fest 2010 - Thursday

OK so Wednesday was hard for me as the jet lag caught up with me... but Thursday was great fun!

The day started with a LAB workshop working through a song routine, it was all pretty simple stuff but the group responded really well and they are going to perform what they came up with on main stage Friday morning. After lunch I got to teach my favourite workshop "Getting to grips with arm rods". It was very well attended and I felt it went well... I am pleased to report I keep on getting stopped in the corridors here being told how much people found it helpful which is always very encouraging!

Thursday afternoon was special for a whole other reason though... we took a trip to Walmart! It's sad I know but Walmart is super cheap in comparison to the UK. I bought my son a few cute little outfits and even got a couple of surprise gifts for my wife which she might like (I hope she does). The highlight for me was I picked up the new Sony Bloggie HD camera for cheap. The exchange rate worked in my favour and I got a good deal.

When I got back to I-Fest Dave Privett had launched his new Puppet Building DVD... another purchase was made! His series is fantastic - if you haven't bought them yet I would advise you to, go to for details.

Thursday evening was the blacklight competition which is always a highlight of the week too - so all in all it was a great day!

Take care - Dave

I-Fest 2010 - Wednesday

So Wednesday was a hard day for me. As you can tell I'm doing this update a lot later in the day than I would normally... it's because jet lag kicked in! Yesterday afternoon I felt like all of a sudden my body switched back to UK time and just couldn't make it through the rest of the day - not good!

So Wednesday was internationally day at I-Fest, the evening performance was dominated by all the international guests. We saw performances from teams hailing from Puerto Rito, Canada, Australia and the UK. The     international guests also had a reception in the President's dining hall after their presentation whilst the Improv invitational went on... sadly I had to miss out on both these fun things as I was utterly shattered and did the very rock-n-roll thing of going to bed early!

Anyway looking forward to writing up Thursday already... I have made some exciting new purchases!

Take care - Dave

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I-Fest 2010 - Wednesday

It's 7:50 and I'm sat at the PC again next to Mr Barrett as we both check emails and try and work out what the time is in England.

Yesterday Gene Cordova and the Bonilla family performed on the main stage in the evening... It was cool. Gene had a nice style of storytelling where he started a couple of threads and kept switching between the two stories. The Bonilla's did some great work too, my particular favourite was the part when Jason explained how to do some silk magic with the assistance of his lightening quick son - he tried to convince us that the reason the silk disappeared was because his son shot across the stage faster than light and stole it from his hand (they even did a slow motion action replay to show how it all worked).

I did my first workshop yesterday morning which was "learning great lip sync", 68 people attended and as far as I'm aware it went pretty well. Everyone that I spoke to had a good time. Today I am on a Q&A panel with Dave Privett and David Pannebecker. That should be fun, but these are the two people who inspired me to start building in the first place.

Yesterday I watched the Lip Sync Challenge in Kresge auditorium, and sat with the Smile Puppet team (from England) who had two puppeteers who had entered... both made it through to the final! We'll find out in chapel this morning how well they got on but they are at least guaranteed 2nd and 3rd place which is excellent!

Today is international day at I-Fest so there's the reception tonight... I'm not sure I can make it yet - but I'll try.

Take care folks speak to you soon

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I-Fest 2010 - Tuesday

It's 7:58am, I've just had breakfast and now it's time for a cheeky check on the computer before the day kicks off in ernest. Paul Morley is checking his emails next to me (and probably the football transfer gossip too if he's honest).

Doug Nearpass and Lenny Corliss were spreading the good news of MacBooks at breakfast today... and following both my brothers making the big switch from PC to Mac the strength of the case in becoming overwhelming (now I just need a spare $2,000!).

It's funny the things that stick out at you when you go someplace new (sorry I'm already adopting my American English vocabulary which I slip into all too easily these days), but my parents have joined me this year for their first ever I-Fest. This is their first visit to America since 1999... so day 1 of I-Fest, what stuck out to them most? Fireflies! I was taking them over to the competition in the Kresge Auditorium from the Ludwig Centre. Just as we were leaving Ludwig I said "of course when you go out at night here the thing you want to keep your eyes open for is fireflies"... as if I had planned it 8 or more fireflies began to dance away in the bush right in front of us. My parents love gardening and wildlife etc so they nearly feinted!

FYI Paul just left and was replaced by Harry Barrett checking his emails... Harry is definitely not checking up on football gossip! I don't know why I feel it's necessary to share these facts with you - I just am :)

On a more puppet related note S.T.A.G.E.D. Puppet team from Omaha, NE performed on the main stage last night with some really great blacklight routines. Also Joe Bruce from Weatherford, TX did a great ventriloquist routine with a really neat quick draw in the middle of it. This is my 7th visit to I-Fest and the performances in the evenings have always been a highlight for me. I am quite a visual learner so I love to see new things and new ideas. 

Well today I have my first workshop that I am teaching this year. It's "learning great lip sync", it should be fun. I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow.

Take care folks - Dave

Monday, 5 July 2010

I-Fest 2010: Monday

So here we are again at ONU waiting for the start of I-Fest. It's great to be here again and I'm really looking forward to spending a week with some really creative puppeteers and performers.

I'm excited that a puppet festival in the USA has attracted so many puppeteers from the UK - there's loads of us over here! There are 11 from Smile Puppet Ministry, 10 from St Peters Puppets, 2 from Upbeat Puppets and 1 from The Puppet Factory (and me of course). This is probably the biggest English contingent that I can ever remember being over here in all the times I have been to I-Fest (this is my 7th visit).

This is going to be my busiest I-Fest to date too... I have lots to do in terms of workshops and the occasional performance, but the thing I looking forward to most has to be the performances. I love being at a creative one-stop-shop! There are so many talented performers here, it's a great place to pick up ideas and get inspired.

Hopefully I'll be able to sneak onto a computer often enough to update this blog throughout the week to keep you up to date with what's going on. I'm sorry to say the YouTube videos will probably not be flowing this week as my Kodak camera has died on me again! If I can I'll borrow a camera I will.

Anyway - see you soon, take care!