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Rediscover the Marionette - exciting event next year

 
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lorihopkins



Joined: 13 Oct 2015
Posts: 3
Location: London

PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:14 pm    Post subject: Rediscover the Marionette - exciting event next year Reply with quote

Hello all,

I am a new member to the guild and I would like to share with you a project I will be starting in the new year that culminates in a special open discussion event about the future of the marionette in the UK. I have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise some of the funds that will allow me to develop my own solo marionette show but also market and host the event, 'Rediscover the Marionette'. I am extremely passionate about not only preserving the heritage of the marionette, but also in bringing the string puppet into the twenty-first century, breaking traditions and creating new marionette shows to renew an interest in the is type of puppet.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions. Anyone who decides to fund the project will receive an invitation to the event, (date tbc February 2016). To find out more you can visit my Facebook page and find the link to the campaign video and further information. Or search 'The Explorer (Rediscover the marionette) on Kickstarter.


I look forward to meeting some of you at future BPMTG events.

Many Thanks!
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Lori Hopkins
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lori-hopkins@hotmail.com
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Chris
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Joined: 02 Oct 2007
Posts: 209
Location: North Wales

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So why do we need to bring the marionette into the 21st century? And why re-discover it? It isn't lost.

It is true that few people these days bother to put in the long hours necessary to learn to work marionettes but that isn't due to lack of interest but to lack of opportunity. It is a practical necessity.

Any young person wishing to make their living as a puppeteer eventually has to face the fact that the bulk of finacially profitable work is going to be, like it or not, screen based - film or television - and these media prefer all other forms of puppet to marionettes. Strings are the problem.

Marionettes are among the most complicated to construct and most difficult to learn to manioulate well so why would any sensible young hopeful choose the most demanding form of puppetry which also offers the least opportunity for financial reward. And this will remain the position until there is mass return to live entertainment.

There used to be variety theatres and night clubs and cabarets and music and art society concerts, a plethora of opportunities for the young puppeteer which just no longer exist.

I like to compare the different types of puppet to musical instruments. More people wishing to make a career in music choose to learn to play the violin than do the jews harp. Even though the violin is more difficult to master it offers opportunity of employment. There isn't much call for the jews-harp in orchestral or session work.

I'm fortunate that I experienced the glory days of the marionette and am also able to continue to earn my living through pulling strings - but few people are lucky enough to own a purpose built marionette theatre. Certainly if I were starting again as a professional puppeteer in the 21st century I would not be spending the many hours necessary in mastering the marionette, I would be looking to explore and master a type of puppet which offered opportunity today.

I am afraid that the future of the marionette is in the hands of the amateurs - they can devote the time and effort required while feeding the family and paying the mortgage from some other source. And actually that isn't such a bad thing, that's how the Puppet Guild started you know. It was Amateurs who were responsible for the Revival of puppetry which had virtually died by the end of the nineteenth century. And the commercially successful marionette companies of the 40s, 50's and 60's (Lanchester, Hogarth, Stavordale, Bramall, Da Silva et al) were initially hobbyists turned professional.

But one thing I do regret the loss of is enthusiasm. You see they were successful because they performed initially out of love of the art (that's what amateur means) and they spent their own money on their hobby until the time when they arrived at a standard where people were paying them. Today we look to the funding first. We can't hold a festival of enthusiasts these days unless we first get a lottery/heritage grant.

Even someone as passionate as you claim apparently needs Kickstarter funding. That wouldn't be my first thought.
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Chris Somerville of the Harlequin Puppet Theatre
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lorihopkins



Joined: 13 Oct 2015
Posts: 3
Location: London

PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Chris,

Thank you for your reply, I’ve had such an overwhelming positive response to the idea of hosting this event and creating a marionette show so it is good to hear the other side of the argument.

When I say ‘Rediscover’ the marionette, I am referring to, firstly the many people (both puppeteers and general public) who I have spoken to about their attitude to these puppets. I was really surprised by how much negativity or misunderstanding there was about what marionettes can do. Some people said things including “I hate them, they are just not expressive”, and “They can’t move very well.” I realised that these attitudes are, like you said, a result of the lack of training opportunities in this country, but also the lack of venues where you can actually go and watch marionette theatre regularly. So what I hope to start to achieve by hosting this event is that people who have lost interest in the marionette can ‘rediscover’ it and those who already respect and enjoy marionette theatre can see a show that doesn’t require a bridge or any complicated staging and perhaps changes their perception of what the marionette can do and maybe renews their enthusiasm. A big aim, I know!

I don’t agree that the only profitable work for a young puppeteer is screen-based. I have been making a living from theatre shows for four years and although the profits aren’t huge, I enjoy creating work for the stage and am content. I am under no illusion that puppetry will make me rich! It certainly isn’t the first puppet that I or other puppeteers might want to master, however I have found that being able to operate a string puppet offers a wider range of job opportunities at theatres that are using them occasionally and also have a lot of transferrable skills that also help me to improve professionally when using other types of puppet – dexterity, strength, choreography, working as a team and so on.

When I first became aware of Kickstarter and other Crowdfunding sites, I felt the same as you – why should I give my money to other people’s projects, surely they should be able to find funds themselves or simply do it in their own time? However, as time went on and I kept seeing more and more of these projects pop-up and I realised that when it came to budgeting for my own show, it simply would not be possible without some extra funding. My flat is tiny and I don’t have a space to rehearse regularly in, all theatres and arts organisations are struggling due to the funding cuts, so their generosity can only stretch so far. Although I am putting in a huge amount of my own time and savings, it still isn’t quite enough to get this project off the ground unfortunately.

I think these type of crowdfunding campaigns are not only about raising money but also about creating a support network for your project – finding out if there actually is any interest in what you are proposing and being able to build your project in the knowledge that a team of people have backed your idea and have faith in what you can create. What I am hoping by sharing the thinking behind the creation of the show and hosting the event is that people who are interested in finding out more about marionettes, discussing the future of this puppet and seeing more marionette work at festivals can support it and follow the process.

You said that Kickstarter funding wouldn’t be your first thought. Are there any other ways that you, (or anyone else) might suggest to generate interest and funding aside from Arts Council England? This is only the second time I have developed a show from scratch so am fairly new to the process.
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Lori Hopkins
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lori-hopkins@hotmail.com
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Chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Oct 2007
Posts: 209
Location: North Wales

PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

May I respectfully suggest that you re-read what I wrote since you so obviously haven't understood it. This seems to be a problem with the speed of internet exchange that people are so eager to get off a reply that they don't properly read what they are replying to.

One small example: You write
Quote:
I don’t agree that the only profitable work for a young puppeteer is screen-based.

But I never wrote that, did I? I did write:
Quote:
a puppeteer eventually has to face the fact that the bulk of finacially profitable work is going to be, like it or not, screen based.
A conversation is only worthwhile if you reply to what I say, not an altered version which better suits your entrenched opinion. Obviously I don't think the only available work is screen based, but if you haven't noticed the trend over the past 10 years and more of dwindling live entertainment generally (not just involving puppets) and the huge growth as the screen as medium of choice through which to be entertained then where have you been?

You ask:
Quote:
You said that Kickstarter funding wouldn’t be your first thought. Are there any other ways that you, (or anyone else) might suggest to generate interest and funding


Well you make my point for me, you link generating interest with funding. My first thought would not be funding.

But I am constantly trying to generate interest in marionettes - it is my living. I do it by performing, by entertaining real people with marionettes. I feel this is a better way than funding "a special open discussion event"!
Also you may know that through The Guild and in association with Michael Dixon I have hopefully generated interest in the marionette with special events in London and the Midlands. Michael and I do not seek to profit financially from these events and certainly don't seek grants or crowd funding. Actually that goes for most people in The Guild, from the chairman down, they are driven by enthusiasm. By the way we are planning, as our contribution to the Guild's 90th celebrations, one such event in November. I hope you've got your tickets!
http://www.puppetguild.org.uk/show90/

Oh, and since you bring up your experience of 4 years might I throw in my 50+ years as a professional puppeteer.
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Chris Somerville of the Harlequin Puppet Theatre
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lorihopkins



Joined: 13 Oct 2015
Posts: 3
Location: London

PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Chris,

I never thought that sharing information about an event would cause such animosity and I am sorry if I have caused offence.

To clarify a point - this project has no financial gain for me. You criticise my understanding of your posts however if you read and watch my campaign this should be apparent. Yes I "claim" to be passionate, not only about marionettes but about puppetry in general and I, like you, spend my life entertaining "real people". I accept that enthusiasm and passion are very hard things to justify or quantify in an online forum. I find it baffling that you assume so much about the motives of someone you have never met and am frankly taken aback at your rudeness.

I'm not sure that this is a worthwhile way in which to continue such a debate and hope that we can agree to disagree.
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Lori Hopkins
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lori-hopkins@hotmail.com
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