The Puppet Behind the Face: Part 2

by Eric Stroud, dramaturg

Hello, hello! Let us continue on our journey to discover more about the puppet stars of this show.

IMG_3312This is Snout the Tinkerer. He is kind and well, kind. I wasn’t sure if he was sad because of the interview or just sad.

Eric: What is your name?

Snout: …….Snout…the tinkerer.

Eric: What do you like most about yourself?

Snout: ………I like to make stuff out of wood. I’m kind of quiet. People say that I’m a downer, but I think I’m just more practical. I like to also think of myself as a good actor, because I have a bold stage persona. I guess that’s it, I’m not really good at interviews.

Eric: What should the audience be most excited about for the show?

Snout: Seeing the other actors in the show. I didn’t even really want to be in it, but the others insisted, so here I am. Continue reading

The Puppet Behind the Face: Part 1

by Eric Stroud, dramaturg

Welcome Back! I hope you enjoyed last week’s look inside of the puppeteers for this show. Now, to dig a little deeper as I promised. Meet the all male stars of this show. Each with his own face and personality.

Peter QuinceThis is Peter Quince. As leader of the mechanical’s acting troupe, he has a rather bossy-bossiness to him. From the pronunciation of Ninus’ Tomb to the lover’s kiss, he would have everything perfect for the play he is putting on… He’s a bit prideful…

Eric: What is your name?

Peter Quince: Peter Quince

Eric: What do you like most about yourself?

Peter Quince: The fact that I am following my dreams to become an actor, producer, and director.

Eric: What should the audience be most excited about for the show?

Peter Quince:  I have pulled together an amazing group of actors, to perform a marvelous show! Continue reading

The Face Behind the Puppet (Part 2)

by Eric Stroud, dramaturg

Welcome back! On this post we will continue delving into the opinions, lives and feelings of our puppeteers. Pay attention to what each says about the effects of the puppets on the production and after you’ve seen it, let us know if you agree, disagree or just your opinion in general. We would love to hear your feedback! (And if you missed the first half of our cast, check them out here.)

Aaron Fisher

Aaron Fisher

This is Aaron Fisher. Playing the part of Lysander the lover seems to have come so naturally to him. However, it has been no different for his operation of the puppet Snout (who we will meet next week).

Eric: What made you want to do a TYA show?

Aaron : I think it was just the opportunity to be able to continue acting. It seemed like a fun project to be apart of, and that’s why I decided to audition. In the end, I just wanted to keep on acting.

Eric: How has it been, working with puppets? What’s been your favorite part? What’s been the most challenging part?

Aaron: It’s been great working with the puppets. I actually had no idea that I would be working with a puppet when I auditioned, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it. My favorite part is seeing the puppets develop their personalities and character as time progressed. With his physical development, I was able to create a character for Snout, and it was a lot fun trying to figure out who he was. The hardest part would be trying to make the puppets come to life. As the mechanicals, we had to channel our acting into our puppets. Through movement and breathing, it’s our job to make them come to life onstage. And despite the difficulties, I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with my puppet.

Eric: What do you think the puppets add to the show? Continue reading

The Face Behind the Puppet (Part 1)

By: Eric Stroud, dramaturg

Hello All! I am so glad to have you back. Last week Kasey gave us an exciting look inside of the renderings and costume design that was so wonderfully created for this show. This week however, we will be harking back to the puppetry. Operating a puppet is no joke. Many people see it as a childish hobby or an awkward talent, but as one of my previous posts proclaimed, puppetry is an art form.

For all of the TYA shows that we do here at BYU there is a requirement that each actor must meet, in order to take part in the performance. It comes in the form of a class, twice a week from 8 am to 2 pm. In this class, the actors will learn how to perform for children and thoroughly rehearse the play that they will be putting on.

However, this show has been rather unique. In addition to learning how to act for children, and thorough rehearsal of their show, these actors have spent hours learning puppetry. Back aching, finger cramping, sore knee making puppetry. In today’s blog post, we will find out their motivations for doing so and how they have grown from it.

Chandra Marie Lloyd

Chandra Marie Lloyd

This is Chandra Lloyd. She is a seasoned veteran of Young Company. She also is a seasoned BYU puppeteer with her involvement in The Selfish Giant. She plays the part of Bottom the Weaver, who we will here from on next week’s post.

Eric Stroud: What made you do a TYA show?  

Chandra Lloyd: I love Theatre for Young Audiences. I think kids have wonderful imaginations and I really enjoy working with them. I’m also very interested in working with kids in a therapeutic setting in the future and love every experience I have doing workshops with them. I believe in educating them for the future, but in unique ways they will remember and be able to put into practice. It is a very rewarding experience. 

Eric: How has it been working with puppets? What’s been your favorite part? What’s been the most challenging part? Continue reading

Costuming Kings, Queens, Fairies, and Puppets!

by Kasey Kopp, dramaturg

As we move towards opening night, many elements of the production are taking shape and coming together splendidly. One of the fantastic elements of this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the beautiful costuming that has been done by Deanne DeWitt and her assistant Shannon McCurdy. This week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Deanne for a few minutes and learn about her process in creating and designing the lavish costumes for people and puppets in this production.

Deanne talked to me about her inspiration and research and showed me the progress on the costumes thus far during a mini tour of the costume shop. At the very beginning of her process, Deanne met with the director, Nat Reed, to understand his vision and learn how she could incorporate that into the ideas that she already had. In developing his concept, Nat was strongly influenced by the highly stylized and artistic elements of the 2011 film Hugo. In keeping with this concept, Deanne strove to incorporate elements of this film in her design.

The costumes of the Mechanicals (roles taken on by puppets in this production!) are heavily influenced by the turn of the century clothes worn by the main characters in Hugo. In a similar vein, many of the fairies are inspired by the fantastic costumes worn by the actor’s in the early silent films that are depicted in Hugo.

In addition to the film, Deanne said that she was also heavily influenced by the concept of butterflies and the idea of flight. Many of the characters have elements of flight woven into their costumes! Deanne was also kind enough to share the renderings of the costumes for the principal players. We look forward to seeing the final product on the actors when the show opens in a couple of weeks. Following is some of the renderings for the costumes and Deanne’s commentary on them! Enjoy! children midsummer Continue reading

Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! (Part 2)

By: Eric Stroud

Hello faithful followers! Welcome back. I do hope that each of you had a wonderful holiday, full of magic, fattening foods and family. Kasey and I are so excited to be jumping back into our posts for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and hope that each of you will find them wonderfully entertaining and insightful. As promised, here is part two of the puppet insight to this play, an interview with the director Nat Reed. (Read Part 1 here!)

This is Nat Reed. He has worked with puppets for over 15 years and they have become an integral part of his life. In honing his skills throughout the years, Nat designed for many big named organizations such as Mattel Inc., Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Mortal Fools Theatre Productions of Frankenstein and the Glass Menagerie and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Nat is currently the Technical Director at the SCERA center for the Arts and an instructor at BYU in puppetry and set construction. He was awarded an Emma Louise Warfield Memorial Scholarship to the National Puppetry Festival and is the festival director for the Puppetry Arts Guild of Utah.  

And as busy as Nat is, he agreed to answer a few of my questions!

Eric Stroud: Why Midsummers and Why Puppets? 

Nat Reed: I feel that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Shakespeare’s funniest, most accessible play. Especially for younger theatre goers, and those that find it hard to understand the language, including myself sometimes.

Puppets? Why not? For many reasons… The selfish reason, puppets are my passion, creating especially. But in the bigger picture, I want the student performers to have that experience to help round out there skills and talents. Making them better performers and/or teachers. With all of the productions using puppetry, The Lion King, and Warhorse to name a few, it is good to have some puppetry experience on your resume.

ES: What got you into puppets? Continue reading

Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! (Part 1)

By: Eric Stroud, dramaturg

Hello you wonderful followers you! I am pleased to have this opportunity to write to you for the first time and most especially, to let you in on some unique aspects of our play!

As Kasey mentioned a couple posts back, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written by William Shakespeare. It has been done countless times and in countless ways. So, when our director, Nat Reed agreed to direct the play, he was determined to make it special. Now, some of you reading this know A Midsummer Night’s Dream quite well, so some of the unique choices I am going to discuss will be even more surprising for you. However, for those of you, who don’t know the play; allow me to provide you with some insight. Parts of the original play surround the experience of some Mechanicals, or a group of men who perform plays for a living. However, as these men gather within the enchanted woods outside of Athens for their rehearsals, some things go astray.

Within the original play, the focus on these Mechanicals is eclipsed by the more relatable story of the mixed up lovers. However, for this TYA production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nat Reed has decided to give these frequently overlooked characters a wonderful new voice. This voice is obtained through Nat’s changing the Mechanicals to puppets; each hand made by Nat Reed himself and each distinct. The puppeteers will operate these puppets as if they were a part of their body, ensuring that each movement made is realistic and calculated.

Now as new as puppets might be to the A Midsummer Night’s Dream setting, puppetry in theatre is nothing new. In fact, puppetry in theatre is believed to have originated almost 3000 years ago, in the days of ancient cultures. However, it has only been in Western culture since the 13th century. Since then, it has evolved and reformed in countless ways, creating its own sub genre. We are excited to have these wonderful creations in our cast! To get you excited about the usage of puppets in this production, enjoy the pictures below; each illustrating some of the greatest theatre performed today with the inclusion of puppetry.

One of the London Stage's newest puppetry phenomenas, Warhorse has expanded the world of puppetry.

Continue reading

Shaking it Up With Shakespeare: An Introduction to the Bard

by Kasey Kopp, dramaturg

This week we’d like to give you a little introduction to the man that is deemed one of the greatest playwright’s of all time, the one and only William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is the author of our Young Company show A Midsummer Night’s Dream and although we’ve had to make some edits for the sake of time (we only get 50 minutes!), our director, Nat Reed, has stayed true to his script and story.

Writing and performing in London in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s, Shakespeare made a very significant impact on drama, literature and the English language as a whole. No doubt you’re familiar with some of his other famous works: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and many more. Here are some fun facts about Shakespeare and his influence! Continue reading

A Dream Come True: Bringing Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream to BYU

by Kasey Kopp, dramaturg

William Shakespeare’s works are among the most performed in the western theatre world. And since its first performance in 16th century England, literally hundreds of productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream have graced stages around the world—enchanting and entertaining audiences of all ages. We are so excited to see this beloved story come to life here at BYU and consider it such a privilege to be able to perform this show as part of the 40th anniversary of Young Company and to share it with elementary schools throughout Utah in February and March as it goes on tour!

A Midsummer’s Night Dream is the classic Shakespeare comedy of four pairs of lovers, all seeking true love despite familial objections and external circumstances, including the interference of group of fairies dwelling in the magical woods. In spite of (and because of) the fairies meddling, each pair of lovers eventually winds up in the arms of the one they love. As in most romantic comedies, everything works out for the best. And of course everyone lives happily ever after!

In this imaginative interpretation, the majority of the actors will be honing and developing their puppetry skills as the Mechanicals and a good portion of the cast will be attached to strings! Continue reading