6 July 2012

Puppet Summit gives the animators a voice

Puppet Prof Philip Millar with puppeteer, Lana Schwartz
Day Two of the National Puppetry and Animatronics Summit in Melbourne is over. The punters leave, some to the pub, while the tired ones head wearily home.

Today saw The Puppet Doctors (Steve Coup, Tim Denton and Philip Millar - pictured left) giving helpful tips on puppet materials, construction techniques, glues and sniffing, or how to avoid it!

This morning we opened with the American long-awaited documentary film 'Puppet' by David Sol.  The film is about the staging of Dan Hurlin’s Disfarmer, a puppet play about Arkansas photographer Mike Disfarmer that was produced in New York in 2009. Hurlin is a guest at the summit and was answering questions about his frank portrayal in the film and his beautiful work 'Disfarmer'. He will be presenting Masterclass Clinics daily at the summit with puppeteers wanting input on their work-in-development. We are even bravely doing one such clinic very early Sunday morning. You can watch extracts from the Disfarmer theatre production here and here.
The film was closely followed by a panel discussion 'Puppetry is Not for Adults' chaired by Nancy Black, featuring Dan Hurlin, Roman Paska, David Sefton, Josephine Ridge, Jo Porter and Jason Cross. This I shall not write about, for fear of boring you. The basic points have been discussed again and again, ever since I can remember, which only goes to show how history sadly repeats itself.

This afternoon, Australian Shadow Puppet Master, Richard Bradshaw giving a lecture on Puppet Opera, from way back when - until today, discussing the good, the bad and the intolerable when the puppets themselves don't even sing. Richard ended his talk by showing some of the incredible work of German-born shadow artist, Lotte Reinige. What amaised me the most is how her opera film 'The Magic Flute' from the early part of the twentieth century has lasted the test of time.  We now look forward to another stimulating day of talk and hopefully some real action in the morrow.

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