A Note From Nick: Once in a Lifetime

Another note from Nick Wilson and the team in Japan:

Wow, what an unbelievable couple of weeks! It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced a People’s Puppet Project what it is that we actually do out here: how much we ask of ourselves and our collaborators, the dense networks of amazing people that form around us, and of course the seemingly miraculous end-product; a world-class giant visual theatre spectacle made from conception to presentation, including puppets, story and soundtrack, by and about a community that has never done or even seen anything like it before. All of this in just ten days.

We arrived in the beautiful, dwindling mountain town of Urada, population 300, with little knowledge about it, and sunk in deep, quickly seeking out a sense of the culture and environment, its quirks and points of difference, the experiences and stories people seem to have in common.

On our first workshop day we met the residents, played some games, had some discussions and decided on which puppet characters to make. Two weeks later they were on stage performing their own fully realised Snuff Puppets show at an international arts festival in the neighbouring village of Matsudai.

That was at Noh Bu Tai theatre last weekend, and it was every bit as powerful, chaotic, ambitious, serene, touching, hilarious and beautiful as we could ever hope a show like this could be. The venue staff were beyond professional, Echigo-Tsumari management, staff and volunteers all went out to get us over the line, and our Urada cast completely blew us away. Surviving a heavy puppet for 45 minutes is a big undertaking even for professional performers, and these guys weren’t just surviving they were excelling. The energy of the crowd was bordering on euphoric. Urada’s elderly rubbed shoulders with Tokyo art crowds and local politicians, getting pushed and ushered around the space together in delighted awe.

The rain held off long enough for us to use the terraced rice-fields across the river, behind the venue, as a multi-levelled natural stage, through which the Kamoshika weaved and the marching band played, looking amazing in their woven rice-straw costumes. Jisa and Basa crossed this idyllic scene by foot and truck, before Magomusume’s big frenzied Tokyo fashion scene entered from behind, circling the audience in promenade style, inviting everybody to dance.

The show featured a boisterous all-singing giant Akashobin, a rural train journey, an eight-metre cucumber being dropped from a great height and paraded overhead, a cheeky cucumber-loving Kappa, his dismemberment by wild animals, his bowl-shaped head spilling out water and irrigating the fields, and some gorgeous sit-down storytelling moments with elderly residents voicing the Grandparent puppets. Continue Reading →

Donna Walker-Kuhne with Arts West

Arts West invites you to a practical workshop on developing new strategies to engage, grow and retain audiences with audience engagement expert, Donna Walker-Kuhne.

Join Arts West organisations and Donna Walker-Kuhne in an intensive three-hour workshop expanding on a Creative Victoria’s Expert Arts seminar. Walker-Kuhne will focus on specific audience engagement strategies to engage local and diverse audiences and communities. Encouraged to share their own audience engagement situations and challenges, workshop participants will create an outline and present it to the group with feedback and input from Walker-Kuhne.
WORKSHOP
Date Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Time 10am – 1pm
Venue FCAC Jack Kennedy Room
Address 45 Moreland Street, Footscray
Cost $100.00 (maximum 20 places available)
Click here to register

Continue Reading →

Glow Festival

While we’re off in Japan making new puppets we haven’t forgotten you, Melbourne, our first love. Come and meet our Hand, Eye, Mouth and Foot in Prahran.

Our Human Body Parts will be performing at Stonnington’s Glow Festival.

14, 15, 21 & 22 August 5.40 to 8pm at Cato Street Car Park, Prahran VIC.

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A Note From Nick, from Urada, Japan

A first dispatch from Nick Wilson at our Australia House Residency for Echigo-Tsumari:

We are now at the half-way mark of our People’s Puppet Project in Urada and our residency at Australia House, Echigo-Tsumari. One week into the workshop and we have the makings of six giant puppets, a wealth of narrative ideas and imagery, a unique and beautiful mix of sounds and musical ideas, and a diverse and talented team of residents who are getting really excited about their performance next week.

Through discussions with the community we decided on six puppet characters to begin work on: Jisa and Basa (Urada grandparents), Magomusume (their granddaughter, a fashionable Tokyo student), a Kamoshka (the amazing-looking Japanese serow), an Ashakobin (the iconic Ruddy Kingfisher), and a Kappa (a troublesome mythical water sprite).

We’ve explored the local environment with our imaginations captured by this climate of such extreme seasons, intrigued by the details of small-town culture in an ageing and dwindling population and moved by the warmth and generosity of residents as we dove head-first into folk-tales and old family homes. Some local stories have been put on as annual school plays here since the old folks were students themselves. The Kappa is shadowing us in silence, our sixth member. Continue Reading →

Women’s Circus Annual Fundraiser

Our friends at Women’s Circus are running a fundraising auction with heaps of really cool stuff. You can get a ticket to our upcoming Snuff Skool at our Footscray Drill Hall and support our awesome neighbours.

Founded in 1991, Women’s Circus is Australia’s first women’s-only circus and performance organisation. Over the years, thousands of women have trained, performed, worked and played at Women’s Circus. Their involvement has helped shape the culture, vision and artistic outcomes of this organisation and Women’s Circus has helped create positive and meaningful change for these women and their communities. www.womenscircus.org.au

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