I don’t think I have shared my non-secret with you… I LOVE puppets! Maybe it’s because I grew up in the golden age of puppetry with Fraggle Rock, Muppets, Mr Dressup, Mrs Rogers Neighbourhood, Sesame Street, and local favourite Today’s Special and Romper Room.
Over the years I have created with puppets as a way to get around production hurdles, mainly no one at my museums wanted to be on camera – yet I was tasked in creating content. Video has been the king of content for a while now, so I always tried to think outside the box when trying to make something on a shoestring budget of a few hours, an iphone, and a museum at my disposal.
Enter Little Red: a campaign for summer camp at Gibson House Museum. She was “mini-me” and a camp counselor helping people get excited for camps at the museum by having little adventures in the museum that were topical to the weekly theme of the camp:
And so Harry the Haggis episodes were born to explore the tradition of Hogmanay at Gibson House! Soon my museum workers were seeing the fun of content creation and I expanded my cast from fuzzy creatures and finger puppets.
It’s been a while since I created with puppets but just recently I had a resurgence of love for them with my new Fraggle, named Pebbles, commissioned by The Puppet Forge and designed by Jay P Fosgitt. I put it up on my personal page and its been viewed 700 times and people were so lovely with their comments that I was taken aback at my return to puppeting! It was a little rusty – and filming and puppeting all by oneself is HARD so it’s not the polished piece I would like it to be. But sometimes you just have to puppet dance, so that’s what I did:
I was back in love with creating with puppets! And so I brought my Eldritch Theatre monster puppet created by Eric Woolfe to one of my museums to do a silly idea…
It has about 700 views on Facebook, 11 shares, and such wonderful comments like these:
It sounds like Philbert Gilbert Dilbert needs to go on a museum adventure around our city! I’m currently researching what grants if any would support a web-series about a puppet interning at museums in the name of supernatural and history. Got any leads? I’m happy to hear them!
I love history, more over I love me some local Canadian history – to be fair I have been immersed in it since 2007 when I got my first museum job as a Historical Interpreter here in Toronto. But wait! I also did Renaissance Faires and a Pirate Festival before that (which were probably the best summers of my life,) so I feel like anywhere from 1790s up to 1914 I have a fair understanding of what was happening in the Western world.
But then I got to play a heroine of mine: Kit Coleman who was an Irish immigrant who came to Canada, Toronto in fact, and was a journalist – the first to be a female war correspondent, and a fantastic feminist who challenged people to judge her work by what she wrote rather than what gender she was or what she wore.
The full episode airs on CBC at 9pm on Sunday April 17, but for now here is a mini-episode with me as Kit!
Hello 2015! I haven’t been blogging here as much because I haven’t been acting as much (insert sad panda) but really I have been busy with other things that make me happy (insert happy panda) but here is something I have been itching to share with you:
Other than that I’m busy making a 10 minute education video for Gibson House Museum explaining the reasons and lead up to the 1837 Rebellion of Upper Canada to use for programming. Should be fun! I love history!
Next up is a super secret project that includes using my whip and fight skills in a short film and then learning a Louisiana accent for another project. This is gonna be an excellent end to 2014!
Recently I was at The Globe. Yes, I know it’s a reconstruction, (actually I visited the carpark of the actual location as well!) truth is I am ready to give a standing ovation at any time to this fact as Sam Wanamaker is now my personal hero for all his hard work and patience on the matter of reconstruction. Visiting The Globe was a milestone in my life and I definitely will never forget it.
The new theatre with Wanamaker’s name is unlike anything I had ever seen. I have read books, written term papers, watched movies, and seen plays ABOUT the time period (Jacobean in this case) but never had I been in a living history museum to one. Because truly that is what both theatres are: triumphs in preservation that people can now participate IN history rather than just witness it in books and pictures.
The Globe iss in off season until the weather shifts to a more comfortable temperature – so my friends and I booked tickets to Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for The Knight of the Burning Pestle which turned out to be the perfect fit for us. It was exactly the right amount of historical nods: to entertainment: to experience. The groundling heckling, the archetypes, the space itself! Oh the space itself! It was all candle lit! No electricity!
We stood, yes stood, in the Lord’s Box which is to the immediate house left of the stage. We were basically on top of the stage, right by the balcony of musicians. (You can see it there in the picture ->) I didn’t even mind standing for 3 hours! I was so engaged by the space, the actors, the story – all of it was, in fact, overwhelming me.
I started to cry. I had a body rush of adrenaline and I wanted to laugh but I cried instead. I was having an aesthetic experience right there at the first intermission of Knight of the Burning Pestle. My friends laughed, half jokingly, at me for doing so – but I can’t blame them. It’s hard to explain what I was feeling.
Aesthetic Experience is “…a sense of being both an observer as well as a participant, a sense of being both detached and yet involved. A sense of timelessness in the event often occurs, and time is expressed as being either compressed or dissolved; that is, it is described as being extremely focused in a moment or a person or a place, while at other times it opens out and expands into a sense of the infinite, the limitless in scope or space…often a peculiarly heightened sense of wonder, elation, or awe accompanied by a fresh awakening to the sense of one’s smallness in the face of the vastness, the limitlessness…an experience involves often a sense bordering on delight.
I remember when I was in high school when my art teacher, Mr. Craig, was trying to explain to me what an aesthetic experience (AE) was. Technically this experience is “your personal interaction with a work of art.” He tried to explain to me that when I have that almost black out feeling, that body shiver, that catch of breath in my throat when I see theatre – that THAT is an aesthetic experience. My body is reacting to the art. I seldom get a full AE from visual arts, I sometimes get it from music, but the most intense ones are from theatre. I always felt silly for them when I was a kid, not understanding that the knot in my stomach from watching shows at the Pantages Theatre combined with the giddy feeling I was having – I just thought I was the crazy little redhead everyone told me I was (I was a bit high strung as a kid, gee that’s a surprize.) But that intense bodily response was a connection to the show, the actors, the theatre, the audience, the WHOLE experience. I was having an AE. It started when I was 7 and I saw The Phantom of the Opera. What a show to throw me! That show was built to give you an AE: everything was over the top beautiful.
And so I was hooked. I remember walking out of the theatre and beaming up at my mom saying “I want to be Christine Daee!” and my mom saying “Oh, hunny, you can’t be Christine, she’s not real. She’s an actress.”
And so here we are. The reason I’m an actor is because I’m an AE addict. I want to GIVE that feeling to people. I want you to feel that connection with art. I want you to have that feeling: that body buzz when the curtain opens; that head rush of joy when the sword fight is flawless; that stomach ache as the ingénue pleas for her life; THAT feeling. That is what I crave every time I step into a theatre.
Today I had the pleasure of fighting. Not usually a sentence most people get to say. But my good friend Tammy Everett is a singer/actor/stage combatant and she asked if I could play the big bad in her up coming music video for her new album. I adore playing the villain, they always get cooler clothes – why is that?!
I’m wearing my hoodie up as in the shoot I will have a hooded cape (see? cooler clothes!) so I wanted to let Tammy get used to grabbing my hooded head and not my hair – which will be wigged! Fun!
So here is a behind the scenes look at us building a fight:
I was asked if I would take the role of a mother who ends up rescuing a little girl from her backyard pool. I agreed. Then I realized it would be shooting in September when it was 13 degrees celsius… At least I got to jump in with my clothes on!