2019/04/18

Hello Internet;

I'm in Windsor Nova Scotia for Animotion Intensive training at Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. I was fortunate enough to win the scholarship from UNIMA Canada to pay the course fees. Today is Day 4.

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Today we began with the same warm-ups: beanbag toss, beanbags on dowels and juggling exercises. We then brought out our own puppets to operate. There is a wide range of styles and sizes created by the actors. I had my dragon.

So mentally, I have been living in the world of the Vardi Puppet House. It requires hand puppets for operation. When I built my dragon I unconsciously built him for the Vardi world. I couldn't find a way to operate it outside of this framed acting place. It wouldn't move like any of the other puppets.

This resulted in my experimentation needing more puppets. At the end of the day, I left with 2 more hand puppets and scenic structures so I could create a cohesive storyline.

It's day four and I'm very tired. My body isn't used to this level of physical exercise as well as the mental fatigue of constant creation and exploration. This is a fabulous program.

-Laura-Beth Bird

2019/04/17

I'm in Windsor Nova Scotia for Animotion Intensive training at Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. I was fortunate enough to win the scholarship from UNIMA Canada to pay the course fees. Today is Day 3.

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So, the day starts the same again. We assemble on Jim's childhood carpet, stretch out our bodies that are feeling the burn of puppeteering. We whine about how mentally tired we are and it's only day 3. We wonder how it will feel by the end of the third week.

We play the beanbag throwing focus game and add more layers to it. We begin to enforce the notion of “letting things go” and “having backups”.

We strengthen our fingers and inner wrist muscles with the large bean bag on a dowel. At this point we can control where to move it through space, pass it between each other and sing songs while walking with it. Who would have guessed that was a thing to be accomplished on day 3.

Next came the frustration. We have all been learning to juggle for three days now. I am no closer than I was on day 1. Today, Jim instructed us to juggle in pairs. This was not a successful task for me. I have added a photo below of what it's supposed to look like for reference.

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019

Our main puppet focus today was on floor puppets. They operate in much the same way as table puppets. A ball with a handle and a nose which is then draped in fabric. The floor puppets are approximately 3/4 of the length of a normal person. They have no formed arms, but holes cut in the fabric for the hands to go through.

Floor puppets need two operators. One controlling the head and one arm, and another controlling the other arm. The puppeteers must work in unison. They must match motion, breath and focus to create a living character.

I found this more difficult than the other two puppets. The lack of arms and draped fabric made it hard for me to create a body structure. I spent most of my time as an arm today, pulling the fabric to fake waists.

Garbage Puppet Challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019

Garbage Puppet Challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019

The rest of the evening was spent finishing up our garbage puppets. I got my dragon painted. He is currently drying in the education room at the studio. Apparently, its tradition for Jim to guess who made which puppets. I don’t think he's expecting the things the class made.

-Laura-Beth Bird

2019/04/16

Hello Internet;

I'm in Windsor Nova Scotia for Animotion Intensive training at Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. I was fortunate enough to win the scholarship from UNIMA Canada to pay the course fees. Today is Day 2.

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We began the morning the same as yesterday. We sat on Jim's carpet and began a stretch. We tossed beanbags to a rhythm and then balanced large beanbags on doweling rods, balancing them on our fingertips. These are both mental and physical strengthening exercises. Puppetry requires muscles groups that are generally inactive and a huge amount of focus on the object being animated.

Jim’s childhood carpet. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Jim’s childhood carpet. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Today, we used a type of puppet called a table puppet. It has the same head construction as the hand puppets (styrofoam wrapped in cloth with a nose). It has a handle on the back of the head, a draped square fabric with arms, and washers in the hands for structure.

This puppet has many of the same operational theories. It requires rhythm, a consistent level, and breath. We operated them as a singular person, and then in pairs. This is closer to a Bunraku style of operation. These puppets don’t have feet, so they don’t require a third operator.

We drilled many of the same actions. Greeting other puppets, handing objects between puppets, and moving through space. We broke off into teams and created storylines for critique.

Table Puppets. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Table Puppets. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

In the evening we continued on with our own recycled puppets. We were tasked with building a characters that are functional out of everyday objects. We will operate them on Thursday, testing our designs.

I made a dragon head out of an ice cream container, paper, and three juice bottles. His nose is made from a Tim Horton's coffee tray and his horns from MacDonald cups and red solo shot glasses. The structure is then covered in hockey tape to make it paintable. The chest scales are made from sections of old cardboard boxes as well.

Laura-Beth Bird. Recycled puppet challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Laura-Beth Bird. Recycled puppet challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Laura-Beth Bird. Recycled puppet challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Laura-Beth Bird. Recycled puppet challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

There are also some photos of other students creations. Enjoy!

Recycled puppet challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Recycled puppet challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Recycled puppet challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

Recycled puppet challenge. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion 2019.

-Laura-Beth bird


2019/04/15

Hello Internet;

For the next three weeks, I'm in Windsor Nova Scotia for Animotion Intensive training at Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. I was fortunate enough to win the scholarship from UNIMA to pay this course fees. Today is Day 1.

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My partner headed back to Halifax early in the morning for meetings, so I was left at TAN, a cute coffee shop downtown. Windsor is small. I sat down with some tea and quiche and every person who walked in said hello to me, regardless of the fact that I was a stranger.

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The 12 students gathered at 9:30 in the main room to pay their fees, take a tour of the facility and get settled into space. We began with strengthing exercises for the mind, tossing a beanbag between each other to a rhythm. We then balanced large bean bags perched on Dowling roads to strengthen our hands. We had to switch them between our fingers and hand and travel around balancing the poles in front of us. This was harder than I would like to admit.

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion. 2019

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Animotion. 2019

After that, we dove straight into hand puppets. We were given small balls with a nose on them with a collar for two fingers inside. a very simple structure. we were shown the proper arm positions and gave them emotion and personalities. It's lunchtime now, and I cannot stress how much my shoulders hurt from this tiny little ball balancing on my fingers.

-Laura-Beth Bird

2019/04/12

Hello Internet;

Big news! I got my very first DVD courtesy of UNB 2999 class. I just saw myself on an old school camera, and it loves orange tones.

Here’s a pic of my very first DVD cover. I feel like I belong in the 80’s now.

-Laura-Beth Bird

2019/04/10

Hello Internet;

Over the weekend, my good friend Roy took new headshots for myself and my friend Esther. Roy wanted to test out new lighting and lenses in exchange for free headshots and some photos of his T-shirts for sale in time for a roller derby training weekend.

I have known Roy for years. He is the primary photographer for the Capital City Rollers. He has been taking photos of me since I strapped on roller skates at 18. If Roy asked, I would give him a kidney for the amount of work he's done for the Capital City Rollers and the derby community in Canada.

So, T-shirt shots were a tiny ask. I, of course, forgot pants…and it was for the best.

Laura-Beth Bird. Roy Crawford Photography. 2019.

Laura-Beth Bird. Roy Crawford Photography. 2019.

2019/04/09

Hello Internet;

I’m back in Fredericton again after a short overnight to PEI. I spent the day filing my taxes and getting my accounts in order. Probably the most frustrating thing that an artist ever has to deal with.

Just so you are aware, organizations such as ArtsLink provide training for artists to better understand the government systems. The facilitators walk you through personal HST numbers, business accounts and claiming expenditure for your work. All VERY useful things.

Artists, keep an eye open for training in your region. It will save your brain at next years tax time.

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Laura-Beth Bird

2019/04/08

Hello Internet;

Today I am writing from the beautiful city of Charlottetown PEI, hiding on the top for of #receivercoffee with my laptop. My partner had a series of business meetings this morning so I tagged along for some great coffee and a chance to visit local galleries in the area.

Receiver Coffee. Charlottetown PEI 2019

Receiver Coffee. Charlottetown PEI 2019

Charlottetown PEI 2019

Charlottetown PEI 2019

Fredericton’s weekend was as jam-packed as ever.

On Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to be on Gia Milani’s short film set filming here in Fredericton. I put on my funeral clothes and joined them at St. Anne’s Church on George Street for a little bit of background work.

Script 2019

Script 2019

On Saturday evening The Muse Cafe hosted the Playwrights' Cabaret, featuring writers from across the region and presenting sections of their latest plays. I, unfortunately, snuck in halfway through because of a board meeting. I managed to catch some works that were being presented at Fundy Fringe Fest, Ryan Griffith’s hit new work Fortune of Wolves and Cole, a new work from Sackville New Brunswick.

Playwrights' Cabaret 2019

Playwrights' Cabaret 2019

It’s always great to see whats being created around the region, and to catch up with the creatives scattered across the province.

Now, I’m off to enjoy Downtown Charlottetown and catch some great art!

-Laura-Beth Bird

2019/04/05

Hello internet;

I use this blog as a way of holding myself accountable to my goals, track my progress and make my art more visible. This blog is public, so I feel worse when I don't do it.

I generally hate exercise. For me, I need a high adrenaline boarding on dangerous anything to pique my interest. Therefore, I am not a big fan of yoga.

Yesterday I said I was going to start. Today was day 1. I'm using yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. She has a 30-day challenge for beginners. My puppy Roma doesn't understand yoga. He thinks we're playing a game, which makes it even more difficult to hold the poses.

1 down. 29 more to go.

-Laura-Beth Bird