Whilst I have been in the loft creating my puppets, the Mermaid team has been rehearsing in their imperial theater. Their seamless shows are rehearsed here in Windsor before taken on tour and overseas. It allows Jim to iron out any creases in the performance with this particular set of actors. The actors then begin what can be up to nine months touring.
Mermaid has up to four shows touring at any time, anywhere in the world. They're one of the few companies in Canada whos season is sold out before the shows even get to rehearsals. When the shows come back into Windsor, they're unpacked, repaired and sent out again for the next tour. The turn around time is amazing.
As I type, they are rehearsing the hungry caterpillar show. This is a huge amount of props to lug to China. Jim has informed me that this show has gone through multiple stages of creation to get to this point. It begins with a storyboard tracking the puppets movements through space. The puppets are then cut out of cardboard and used by the actors so that Jim can decide on the appropriate size of each piece. The actors can also feel where the handles should be. The puppets are then built and painted whilst a musician comes in and creates the soundtrack. When everything is ready, they rehearse each day preparing the show to ship out.
I now sit with two hand puppet heads beside me, realizing how much work needs to be done. This is why I came to Mermaid Theatre, to learn what goes on behind the scenes.