2016 Wrap Up & News

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Greetings Friends!

I thought that it was time for a new blog post!

Time passes rather quickly these days. Between performances, other work and projects, there is never enough time! 2016 has been a great year for us! We have taken some major steps to further our work.

  • We wrote and produced our productions of “Little red Riding Hood” and “Shoemaker and the Elf”.
  • Performed at the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
  • Performed for Cleveland’s “WinterFest” event, at the Cleveland Public Library.
  • Performed a major puppet restoration for the Colorado Renaissance Festival and the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival.
  • Started the build on our newest production, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, which will premier in March of 2017.
  • We are in the planning stages for producing videos of all of our shows, so that they can be submitted for consideration, to theaters and other venues all across the United States.
  • Still working on the restoration of the puppets and staging from the former “Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theater”. We hope to have “The Snow Queen” ready for performance by the Fall of 2017.
  • Already booking performances for our Summer 2017 season, which will include medieval/renaissance festivals, libraries, theaters and schools.
  • Joined the “Puppeteers of America”, as a company.

As we progress, we are more and more encouraged by the response that we are getting from audiences and presenters alike. We are finally able to start cutting back on some of the other performance work that we do and fill that time with puppet performances.

We are also in the process of reviving the “Puppeteers Guild of Northeastern Ohio”, the local branch of the “Puppeteers of America” organization. We are hoping to build a strong group of performers, enthusiasts, collectors and educators, in an attempt to bring the world of puppetry, as an art form,  to the people of Ohio.

We are really looking forward to the new year and all that it brings!

Wishing you a most wonderful and Happy Holiday Season!13516616_204359699964003_3527631938247850684_n

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Christmas Update

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Well, the work continues, as we build our newest production, “Once Upon a Fairy Tale”. Today, I am working on building the rear projection screen, that will be utilized for projected scenery, as well as graphics for the show. This will allow us to change locations without the need for conventional scenery. As we carry the shows in a standard size car, being able to project the scenery is an absolute blessing.

Jenny has been working on the “Wolf” puppet, for the “Little Red Riding Hood” section of the show. She is sculpting the nose and mouth of the character out of foam, that will later be covered with grey fur. I think that we purchased something like nine feet of fur for the puppet. All I know is that the back seat of our car is covered in grey fur!

We will be ordering a new light board for this production, as we intend to use more lighting instruments and effects than we used in our production of “Rumpelstiltskin”. The performance area is much larger for “Once Upon a Fairy Tale” and I need to use bigger, higher wattage lights to cover the area.

We will also be adding a shadow puppet piece in the production, again utilizing the rear projection screen. Jenny will be designing the shadow puppets, which will be for the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” section of the show.

Lots to do. More updates to follow!

Once Upon an Update!

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Today is November 30, 2015. Only one month left in this year. Which means that time is ticking away. We premier our newest original show, “Once Upon a Fairy Tale” in March 2016. Lots of work to do…

After a recent trip down to Atlanta, Georgia for the grand re-opening of the Center For Puppetry Arts and the new expansion that houses the Global Puppetry Collection, as well as the new Jim Henson Collection, we have been inspired to go in a completely different direction. We have decided to completely redesign the set of this new show, utilizing a non-traditional style puppet stage. Instead of using a “box type” puppet stage, with curtains and a playboard, we will be using a much more open type of staging. We have designed a 10′ X 4′ X 14″ valance, made of 1″ PVC tubing. The playboard will attach to the top and a fabric cover will be placed over the entire unit. The fabric will be painted to look like a stone, garden wall, with stone blocks, flowers and vines. There will be two levels of shelves within the valance, to hold all of the puppets and props for the show. Black velour curtain panels will frame the performance area and we will add a 14′ backdrop behind the valance. The middle section of the backdrop will be a projection screen and we will be projecting scenery onto the screen from a video projector, placed behind the set. This will cut down on the amount of set pieces that we need to carry and will allow for some really creative “looks” for the show.

All of the puppets for this new production will be “Muppet-Type” hand puppets. Bright and colorful, these will appeal to the younger audience members that have watched shows like Sesame Street. Most of the puppets have been built. We still need to complete the hair, costumes and faces of the many characters that will be a part of this show!

By the way, the new expansion at the Center For Puppetry Arts is amazing. This eight year, $14,000,000 project was made possible through grants and private donations, as well as a sizable donation to the museum by the family of the late Jim Henson. What an honor it was for us to be among the very first people to view the new museum. The Global collection is brilliant, featuring puppets from around the world. Some of the highlights for us were traditional bunraku puppets from Japan, Indonesian shadow puppets, Mufasa and Scar, from the Broadway production of “Lion King”, “Madame” the ventriloquist figure from puppeteer Wayland Flowers and the original puppets used for all of the “Gumby & Pokey” features.

The other half of the new museum houses the “Jim Henson Collection”. It is an awesome tribute to Muppets creator Jim Henson, as well as to his wife Jane and his children who have kept the work and the dream alive. So many familiar faces to see; Bert and Ernie, Elmo, Oscar the grouch, Big Bird, and of course, Kermit the frog. Puppets from Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal, Muppet Treasure Island, Fraggle Rock, The Story Teller, Sam & Friends, and so many more, all together in one place, was a very emotional visit with old friends and family! The collection contains some 500 puppets, that will be a part of a continually rotating exhibit. So that, every time you visit, you will see different characters!

Enough for now…time to get back to work!

Peace and Love!

A New Production!!!

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Fairytale photo

Well, after the response to our first original production, “Rumpelstiltskin”, we have decided to start production on a new show. “Once Upon a Fairy Tale” will be available for 2016 and we are really looking forward to getting this one out there!

Coming in 2016, Great Lakes National Puppet Theater is proud to present “Once Upon a Fairy Tale”. Inspired by the works of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brother’s Grimm, “Once Upon a Fairy Tale” is a collection of classic stories, using colorful “Muppet-type” hand puppets, that children are sure to love. Each performance is presented in “blocks” of two, three, or four short stories, combined in a most delightful presentation. Geared for younger children with its rich visuals and fast pace, “Once Upon a Fairy Tale” is also ideal for family series programming.

We will be using the stage from our “Rumpelstiltskin” show, with added side panels, to create more performance areas. We are currently building the puppets and working on the script. We will be starting with “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Goldie Locks & the Three Bears”. Later on, we will add “Jack & the Beanstalk”. The fourth piece that we will add to the show will be “The Three Billie Goats Gruff”, performed using shadow puppets. This will be a three year project, with the first two pieces being ready for the 2016 school year.

Rumpelstiltskin will be our first show out!

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Rumpelstiltskin will be our first show out!

We are busy putting our first production, “Rumpelstiltskin” ready for two June 14th. performances. This show features hand and rod puppets, with lighting, special effects and an original score. We are very excited to finally get out there and start performing! This show is for all ages and promises to be great fun!

Great Lakes National Puppet Theater Blog

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Chapter 7: Funding

Well it is February 7, 2014 and we have a tremendous amount of work to do on the puppets and staging for our first show, “The Snow Queen”. Along with the repairs and restoration, we have decided to completely re-design the set for the show. Although it will look similar to the original set, we will be adding a rear projection screen, so that we can project scenery and lighting effects on to the screen. This will completely expand the possibilities for the show and we will only be limited by our own creativity and finances. Speaking of finances…

We have begun looking for grants and private funding for the theater and for “The Snow Queen”. I just spent several days researching some available grants and I believe that the first one that we apply for is the Henson grants. I will be working on the proposal letter and materials in the next couple of days, as everything needs to be sent out by March.

We have set up a fund raising campaign on Kickstarter.com and will have it active during the months of March and April. We are hoping to raise $5,000 to help remount “The Snow Queen”. More on that in the coming weeks…