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.

One of the London Stage’s newest puppetry phenomena, Warhorse has expanded the world of puppetry.

Hey! This is a wonderful puppet from BYU's very own TYA production of Selfish Giant. Look at those puppeteering skills!

This is a wonderful puppet from BYU’s very own TYA production of The Selfish Giant. Look at those puppeteering skills!

avenueQ

Though a little on the racy side, Avenue Q was one of the first Broadway musicals patterned after the idea of Sesame Street. A very adult Sesame Street.

Puppets can be quite large; and the dragon puppet from Shrek the Musical, performed at the cadillac Theatre is no exception.

Puppets can be quite large; and the dragon puppet from Shrek the Musical, performed at the Cadillac Theatre is no exception.

kingkong

King Kong on Broadway anyone? Imagine the amount of puppeteers this guy requires.

zazulionking

Now here’s one we all know in love. Zazu, from Disney’s Broadway production of The Lion King. If you look close, you can see the trigger in puppeteer Jeff Binder’s left hand. It opens and closes Zazu’s mouth when he speaks.

Though these blog posts will be on hiatus during Christmas Break, be sure to check back in January for PART TWO of Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! In this blog post I will show the interview I had with the director of this production, Nat Reed, who will gives insight on his inspiration for using puppetry and where his love for it originates. See you soon!

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