Actor, Puppeteer, and Teaching Artist

What is making me Happy? : IPF Team

Maybe my brain is being scrambled by Megan and I rewatching Mission: Impossible (the series!) on the Netflix recently but this week honors are going to go to the Impossible Puppet Force team.

The next project I’m working on is an original show with Trouble Puppet (written by trouble himself Connor Hopkins) called The Head. I got to do my first Trouble Puppet show earlier this year with Cruel Circus and I’ll be honest, I struggled more with that show than I’ve struggled with anything in years. I began the process with zero knowledge of the actual craft of puppetry. I quite literally didn’t know how to walk or breathe in this world and I had 5 weeks to learn.

My brain mostly did and my hands mostly didn’t.

As was once said of Bobby Bonilla and third base… I fought the puppets to a draw
(and they had pretty awesome weapons).


This go-round has been much smoother. My hands are only a bit more facile but they have a 5 week rehearsal process and a mess of shows between them and not knowing how to breathe.

It makes a difference.
There are fewer surprises.
Which is not to say no surprises.

One of differences between working in small budget meat theatre and working with Connor and the team he’s assembled over the last decade is that they are always building the show and fixing the show and as soon as they can get you something you need? You get it. You don’t get the bits of the show 4 days before opening and reconcile the show in your head and the show on the stage. You get The Stuff early. That means that as the machinery that makes up The Head that the Mechanic is operating is showing up day by day as the build team makes it so.

The Build Team

Which makes every day like Puppet Christmas – what’s going to show up today?!.
The things they make out of cardboard and a Home Depot smash and grab will in fact amaze you later this month.

But it feels a little like being being Bond walking into rehearsal… Stella holding up a contraption of pvc and wood and string explaining that she made us a new bird… and here’s how to extend the wings, here how to flap them, and if you tilt it down a bit it all slides a bit better. Then it’s up to us to take that mechanism and bring it to life. James Bond or a  Jaeger team being instructed before heading out to battle.

Those days when you put your shovel down and go home knowing that it’ll be exactly where you left it tomorrow? The build team erases that feeling. Every single day the show has moved forward in some noticeable way. There really is a team working almost round the clock to make the show happen. It makes strapping in for rehearsal every night that much easier.

Happy Little Footnotes:

  1. The Head and Cruel Circus teammate Justin Sherburn released an album about life in New Hampshire yesterday, go check it out:
  2. Chris Ashworth and Figure 53 are practicing compassionate capitalism and it makes me smile.
  3. The lake scene in The Spectacular Now
  4. Apparently a wildling kitten now named Ygritte has claimed us for her own.

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