I’ve been a little bit too busy to keep up with what’s happening in the Sidekick Project puppetry work. We’ve now finished the puppetry training stage of things and started rehearsals for the performance at APA drama theatre, which I’m happy to say should prove to be very untraditional and interesting. I’ll probably be playing the flute as well as doing string puppets, plate spinning and other crazy things.
We had some time off over Chinese New Year, and I missed a few sessions before that for various reasons, so it feels like a long time since working on puppetry stuff. Anyway, on the first day back I was very surprised to be given another new puppet to learn – the plate spinning hand puppet pictured. King (one of the other participants) is also working on a plate spinning puppet, with the idea that we can throw the plates to one another. These plates are much smaller and heavier than usual, and the sticks (apart from the one pictured on the puppet’s head) are much longer and bendier. Anyway, it’s very difficult. The most difficult thing for me is throwing the plate up in the air (using the puppet’s hands) and catching it on the stick on its head. Apart from that, I apparently spin the plate in the wrong direction. I could spin it one way after a few minutes’ practice, but after hours of trying the other (correct) way I’m not much better.
Just sharing some photos from my actor training workshops (Actor Training Through Physical Theatre) that I’m running at We Draman. This was from our session on physical approaches to creating a character – you can see us doing some animal walks and commedia dell’arte archetypes.
Actor Training Through Physical Theatre
It’s possible that I’ll be doing an intensive workshop series in mainland China soon, through my own company – more news on that to come.
I’ve been keeping less of a complete journal of the Sidekick Project recently because there haven’t been many developments really (I posted a short clip on my new company website). I’ve continued working on the same puppet for a long time now, but I’m apparently good enough to move on. I’m starting to work on the pictured shadow puppet. It’s a lot simpler than the string puppets, but it still takes a lot of manual dexterity and adapting to the correct way to hold it. I’m concentrating on being able to move two sticks independently in one hand at the moment. Like all the other forms, getting a natural-looking walk comes from moving the whole body, not just the hands – the puppet’s steps are the same as the puppeteer’s.
I’m co-teaching a course on polyphonic song in Hong Kong – the full title is long: 同流演藝課程：複調演唱：聲音訓練與劇場應用 Polyphonic Singing: Voice and Theatre Practice. Details in Chinese here.
Here come the details:
Polyphonic song is a tradition of singing together in different voices, which combine to make the whole sound. The origins vocal polyphony can be traced far back in the cultures of Greece, Albania, Serbia, and Georgia. Georgian polyphonic song is described by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (as is Chinese tea!). Songs are taught through listening rather than by following scores, and are usually sung a cappella.
I’m running another series of training workshops next year (2015). This time they’ll have more of a focus on actor-training, with some text work and leading up to a final public performance. Details are available in Chinese here.
About the Course
There are two major schools of thought in actor training, focusing on either the psychological process, or on physical technique. Practitioners of physical theatre place an emphasis on the latter, but this physical engagement often leads to a heightened emotional responsiveness, and improves the performer’s ability to project (rather than simply experience) a character’s psychology.