2018/12/18

Hello internet;

I promised I would update a little more about Mermaid Theatre.

I am here to learn how to build hand puppets. I want a Punch and Judy styleized set for the Vardi Puppet House. I attempted large marionette style puppets for “A Life of Galileo” presented by Theatre St. Thomas. I struggled with the proportion and movability far more than I thought I would. I'm running out of time to experiment on puppets. I needed to find a teacher.

After a class on residencies through Arts NB, I googled residencies in my region. I knew about Mermaid, but I didn't know about their loft program. I emailed the company and promptly got a response from Jim Morrow. We spoke on the phone for an hour and he agreed to give me a crash course in hand puppets. I would receive the space and training for free, I just had to get here and feed myself. Easy enough.

In the morning, Jim gave me a tour of the massive facilities, the theatre they rescue for $60 000 (and put over a million in to make it usable) and the puppets on display. He connected me with the outreach program manager and walked me through the companies operation tactics.

Mermaid Theatre Puppets. Jim Morrow. Styrofoam

Mermaid Theatre Puppets. Jim Morrow. Styrofoam

I then met with Sara Lee, one of the founding members of Mermaid Theatre. She told me of organizations like UNIMA, and festivals she has created in the region. On her desk sat two knit figures. A Punch and a Judy. They were a gift from one of the two surviving Punch family members on his trip to Canada from Brighton.

I have been given the loft studio, located above the storefront in Windsor. It's basically a rehearsal hall. I'm all alone up here so I've placed my desk in the middle of the room. I have a drop-mat down and some lights that are on loan from Arts Link in St. John (they were in the car because I go to St. John on boxing day). As of today, I have the basic structure for a fisherman puppet and a dog puppet. My goal for today is to get these covered in skin (cheesecloth and wood glue) and hopefully carve one or two more heads.

Fisherman head. Grey Rabbit Theatre Co. 2018. Laura-Beth Bird. Styrofoam.

Fisherman head. Grey Rabbit Theatre Co. 2018. Laura-Beth Bird. Styrofoam.

I'm here until Friday, and I'm going to absorb as much information as possible. It's like a working vacation, and I would definitely love to do more residencies like this.

-Laura-Beth Bird