As part of ArtsFest, Hannah Miller offered a free Marionette making workshop at Urban ReThink. I heard that this workshop was sold out quickly and tickets were limited. Thankfully, Hannah, AKA Thunder Hag, understands my sketching obsession and she was open to having me observe. On the white board, Hannah had written the names of two puppet masters who's work influenced the workshop. Albrecht Roser is a German puppeteer who believes that the puppet drives the motion, not the puppeteer. Robin Walsh had an affinity to using fabric, especially silk in the construction of her puppets. She explained that the puppets we would make today would be ugly but functional. Hannah pointed out that the puppets movements were based on a pendulum swing and each puppet would have its own way of moving depending on what it was made of.
Each participant had a bag of supplies. Inside was fabric, beads, string, and a control bar. The fabric was used as the body of the puppet. Beads were threaded onto the corners and became hands and feet. The head required special attention since three screws were positioned for mobility and control once the puppet was strung. April Tennyson was assisting Hannah. Both puppeteers once worked at Pinocchio's Marionette Theater in the Altimonte Mall. April asked me, "Where should I stand to get in the sketch?" "Well," I said, "The best place would be to stand behind Hannah." She stood behind Hannah and smiled broadly as she took a heroic pose, holding up some fabric. I laughed out loud and tried to ignore her until she "acted natural." I hope Hannah didn't think I was laughing at her lesson.
Jeff Ferree who is a puppeteer who had a show at Fringe last year in the smallest venue, a closet, sat next to Hannah and struggled with the head of his puppet. To me, he is a puppet master but even masters want to expand their horizons. The couple seated closest to me seemed like a married couple. They giggled like kids as their creations came to life. The woman was always two steps ahead of her partner, and she would step in and help out on occasion. Some folks arrived late and April tried to get them up to speed.