10/20/2016 0 Comments
What’s most inspiring to me about the creation process as a theatre designer is how hands-on it all is. In our digital age of the internet and Netflix streaming and instant gratification, there is still no instant “on” button for art-making and visual design in the theatre. Design and construction in the theatre is a craft; time and energy must be spent, and everything has to be created by hand. And while the construction materials might begin as ordinary - fabric, paper, clay, and paint - they can be re-imagined as something extraordinary and magical.
For the bunraku puppet of Beauty, the construction process was incredibly time-consuming and detail-oriented (I often joke that puppet-making feels like giving birth and that the puppets I make are my children! ;-) ).
First, I designed the silhouette of the puppet on paper, before tracing it on to muslin. The muslin was then hand stitched with carpet thread and filled with cotton stuffing.
The face, the hands, and the feet of the puppet were sculpted in clay, which were then covered with five to seven layers of paper mache. After the paper mache sculptures dried, they were split open, the clay was taken out, and they were sealed back up again. Finally, paper clay was added on top of the hollowed-out paper mache sculptures for added texture, and then they were painted. Once the bunraku puppet’s body was assembled together, I moved onto styling and attaching the wig, and stitching the pink princess gown (with the help of some very talented stitchers - thank you, Libby and Ilana!).
While the puppet and mask design construction process has been underway for months now, this is still only the beginning! It’s not until these puppets and masks are animated in the rehearsal room by the performers that they will truly come to life. I can’t wait to begin rehearsals on October 24, when we’ll start to make the inanimate animate. Until then...