2014-2015 Season,  A Midsummer Night's Dream

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?

NR: I would like to say, as many can, that I was making puppets and putting on shows as a small child, but that’s not the case. I came into puppetry initially making props and scenery for several puppet based companies. But it wasn’t until I was a toymaker at Mattel that I really started experimenting with puppetry. During downtime I would make different puppet parts, trying out different joint types, using different materials. I then started making puppets for different theatres, and working on a few of my own projects, some of which have never been produced. This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is in a way a dream come true for me. It is one of the first plays I wanted to adapt for puppets, and I have notes and ideas from 10 to 15 years ago, some of which I am using in our production.

ES: What benefits do you feel that puppetry gives to children’s theatre?

NR: Puppetry is the perfect mix of almost all of the arts. Theatre, visual art, sculpture, music, dance or movement, animation, engineering, and all facets of design. When done well, puppetry can transport the audience, adding that one more layer of imagination. Children these days are bombarded with 3-D images in movies and television, on their computers, tablets and phones. Puppetry is the original 3-D animation.

ES: What has been your favorite part about directing this production so far?

NR: The cast and stage manager are amazing. They have really picked up on the movement, been willing to try some often ridiculous things, and rolled with every suggestion. This has been a very collaborative effort. Everyone has offered creative if not always doable ideas, and we are having a lot of fun putting this together. Obviously we hope that the fun of this process is shown in our final product.

ES: What are you most excited about for this production?

NR: I am excited for our team to share this amazing experience with our audience!

Thanks for reading all. Keep following the blog to find out more about our unique production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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