Every week, A.B.L.E. teaching artist Emma MacLean takes you behind the scenes for our teen ensembles’ spring production, As You Like It. Click here to catch up on our past installments, and read on to find out about Week 5 of rehearsals.
For As You Like It, the A.B.L.E. ensemble is trying something we have never used in a show before: we have puppets! You’ve heard me mention in other blogs, we have been learning the basic tenets of puppetry throughout our rehearsal process: breath, focus and weight. This week, we dove deep into puppetry work.
Each of our teen ensemble’s has a major puppet moment during the show. Friday’s class will stage the big wrestling match between Orlando and Charles the Wrestler. Charles is the most feared fighter in Duke Frederick’s court…he also happens to be a 2.5 foot tall puppet. With Friday’s class, everyone had the chance to operate the Charles the Wrestler puppet. Charles is a Bunraku puppet, meaning he needs 3 puppeteers: one on the head and arm, one on the torso and other arm, and one on the feet. The actors all took turns making Charles move about, sometimes he danced, sometimes he threw some punches and kicks.
Monday’s class had multiple puppets to experiment with. Near the end of the play, Orlando’s older brother Oliver returns with a terrifying tale: while he was sleeping in the forest, a lion almost ate him! Luckily, Orlando stepped in and saved the day. For our production, the lion is a marionette puppet and Orlando and Oliver will be fabric bunraku-style puppets.
Lastly, both classes got an opportunity to use some forest creature puppets. Our Forest of Arden is alive with swallows, owls, squirrels, bees and raccoons. We put on some forest-y music and all the actors had a chance to experiment with these new animal friends. I’m excited to watch our forest movement pieces come together.
It was cool to get to see the work that we had done with the trashbag puppets in previous weeks, fully blossom this week in puppet rehearsal. We are grateful to designers Cynthia Von Orthal, Stephanie Diaz, and Julianne Eisele for sharing their puppet creations with us, and trusting us to bring them to life.