Workshop (3/27/06)

[cross-posted from Dale’s blog]

Forging ahead, Marc, Dale, Carol Lee, and Laura in attendance.

Carol Lee has finished two sunflowers:

Carol Lee's sunflowers

They are quite magnificent. We began to see a lot of possibilities now for choreography. Dale suggested that we keep in mind the Silly Symphony cartoons, with their simple and repetitive patterns. They’re a lot of fun to play with, and very easy to make into characters.

Dale reported on his adventures in Hedgehog Land: he worked with Sherry Lambert’s kindergarteners again on the MMH Arrives sequence, and they’re getting quite good at it. He then tested them on some ideas he had for the Marmalade Man Makes a Dance to Mend Us, where he asked them to strike hedgehog poses on the beat. Then they played follow-the-leader, taking a step and striking a pose on the beat. It worked, so we’ll actually be able to stage both MMH pieces! He also sent letters home to the parents so they could decide whether their hedgehog would be able to participate in the May 3 performance.

Then we forced ourselves to get to work on visuals for Sun & Moon Circus [SMC].

Marc continued his study of the circular bed, the Gang in pyjamas, King of Cats as ringmaster:

Marc's Tiger

That’s a magic lantern the Tiger is holding, projecting moons/stars/suns onto the circus action around them.

Carol Lee grumbled about being a three-dimensional artist (i.e., hot glue) being forced to work in a two-dimensional framework, but she approximated successively nonetheless:

Carol Lee's moon

Here she has the sunflowers listening to the Moon’s lounge act. Looking at this idea, it occurs to Dale that we can actually write in a vocal part for the Moon in the circus sequence, sort of a Cirque du Soleil descant thingie.

Carol Lee's clapping

A simple image, for creatures clapping. We probably could come up with a few more, paws and fangs, to add to the mix.

After working with paint last week, Dale went digital this week, using a program called ArtRage. It’s very gorgeous, and it comes in a free version for both Mac and that other platform, from Ambient Design. There’s also a $19.95 version that has layers, worth it if you can afford it.

Fitful, flashing light

Here the tiger is awakened by fitful, flashing light, streaming through his window. He has managed to get his paws on a bit of it.

We do not have workshop next week, April 3, because it’s spring break and Dale and Marc and Carol Lee will be in New York City. In fact, by this time next week, we will already have had lunch with Nancy Willard!

Workshop (3/20/07)

[cross-posted from Dale’s blog]

Another productive evening: Marc, Dale, Carol Lee, Laura, and Melissa in attendance.

Carol Lee brought in the latest approximation of the sunflower (no picture yet). More leaves, longer stem. Very nice. Much discussion of how to dye the elastic. Later, Carol Lee had several brain attacks on how to solve the whole stem/leaves/elastic situation. She left early to put those into practice.

Laura had her approximation of the hedgehog costume. We coerced a young dancer into trying it on.

Laura's hedgehogMaggie wearing the hedgehog suit

Laura worked on improving the headpiece into a hood. The texture of the eggshell foam is perfect.

We then worked on visual images, and here are the results:

First, a visual of Marc’s periaktos on steroids:

Marc's periaktos

You’ll notice the extra flaps on every side.

If you calculate carefully, you’ll see that each unit can give us nine different settings, i.e., closed position 1, open position, closed position 2, all times three.

Dale discussed going simpler for the May 3 performance, using single panels, painted on either side, used as puppet-walls. Lots of interesting choreography possibilities with the character/puppeteers manipulating the walls in space as the MMH “bustles through all the rooms.”

For Sun & Moon Circus, we had some beautiful images.

Tiger & Rabbit in jammies

Marc continues his motif of bedtime attire.

Moon on a swing

Marc’s entrance of the Moon: a giant swing-thing, ridden by an angel.

Dale's rabbit

Dale’s rather frightening Rabbit, peering through the window and reassuring whichever character. This painting is unfinished, so perhaps Dale can cuten up the bunny a bit.

Planet Clowns

Dale has the clowns as Pierrot, silver-faced and silver-gloved, playing with the planets, while above an angel walks a tightrope. (Her umbrella is out of the frame, of course.) This clown is turning back to look at us in a bit of choreography Dale says is inspired by the orchestration of the new circus music.

Marc’s idea (from comments on the Lacuna blog) about putting the Tiger, King of Cats, etc., on a circular bed in the middle of the circus gathered steam. They would be projecting sun/moon images from their magic lantern while the circus careened around them. The Rabbit could rotate the bed as ringmaster.

Moving on the Man in the Marmalade Hat, we got a couple of Toastheads:

Marc's Toastheads

Marc’s Toastheads, bearing banners and marching forth.

Melissa's Toastheads

Melissa’s Toasthead, all starched flat and bearing a banner. It’s interesting that both Marc and Melissa have given them ties.

Dale had brought in some trash from Multec, foam of varying dimensions and densities. We considered that if we were able to get some whole pieces of the thinner foam, we might build the Toastheads’ costumes out of that: flat but flexible. Are their movements starched as well?

Next week: more painting/drawing/sketching. Let’s focus on Sun & Moon Circus, since that’s one we need a fairly complete storyboard projection.

Workshop (3/13/07)

[cross-posted from Dale’s blog]

Another workshop, another meeting of brilliant minds: Dale, Marc, Carol Lee, Melissa, Laura, and Mary Frances.

We shared some homework each of us had done re: winter/spring images for the MMH’s banners.

Marc had done some nice sketches of dead leaf/new leaf, snowflake/sun that were good. He had a fun pennant with a hibernating critter on it.

Melissa had a two sided banner, to wit:

Melissa's winter bannerMelissa's spring banner

Dale cheated, just photoshopping a winter tree:Dale's winter tree

Still, the image is compelling, and we thought that maybe this kind of image might be an interesting way to proceed.

Carol Lee went for texture:

Carol's spring bannerCarol's winter banner

Hard to tell in the photos, but the one on the left is brown, the one on the left is yellow. There would be lots of movement in it. Marc had the idea of putting an image like mine or his on the dangly bits. Dale remembered the image transfer sheets that all the artists are using these days: we could transfer a photo image like the winter tree directly to fabric, then cut it into shreds.

We talked about what to make the banners out of. Dale pointed out that if we made them out of muslin and painted them, it would be cheaper, we’d get the colors we wanted, and they’d be stiff as if starched (our other motif in MMH.)

Laura had run out of time to work on the hedgehog approximation. She left it at home, but will bring it next week.

Dale had brought in a Toast Head approximation:

Dale's Toast Head

The photo printout was sort of a cheesy stopgap, because he thought the sides needed to represent a stack of toast; otherwise we risked people thinking they were Bread Heads. But everyone liked the photorealistic approach. We will continue to explore that. Dale thinks the butter is too distracting; Mary Frances liked it. Mary Frances wants the chorus to be the Toast Heads, which is not an impossibility.

Mary Frances played with the Sunflower Carol Lee had re-approximated. She had some interesting new takes on things that could be done with them, including having just one sunflower per dancer/puppeteer.

We moved into discussion of the Inn: what will it look like? Marc had already posted some ideas previously on the Lacuna blog (here), and he had some sketches of Swiss Army knife-looking contraptions, which allowed various pieces of inn/set to fold out.

Dale whipped up a little model…

Dale's inn

…based on ideas he had while daydreaming during last night’s Masterworks concert. The two square, two-leveled platforms could emerge from the wings, unfold, then walls could pop up and unfold, with perhaps a pediment flown in, etc.

Dale also talked about an idea he had based on Marc’s ideas, wherein we provide frameworks and then the walls are puppeteered in and out. He suggested that for the May 3 performance, we could have the MMH bustling “from room to room” by having the rooms move around the MMH.

Marc then built an elaborate periaktoi with all kinds of flaps and foldouts. Periaktoi…

Periaktoi frontPeriaktoi front

…seen here in back view and front view (from, are rotating triangular arrangements of flats. You paint a different scene on each face, then rotate them for changing scenery.

We thought this might be an easy way to do the Inn, at least for May 3. We’ll pursue it. Marc suggested doing the photorealism thing in a collage style, of architectural elements, not necessarily in a naturalistic manner, of course.

We have two more workshops until spring break, so we’re going to spend both of them creating the visuals for the projected version of Sun & Moon Circus. Bring your color, cut & paste supplies and play with us! You can download a PDF storyboard here.

What have I left out? Comments…

Workshop (3/6/07)

[crossposted from Dale’s blog]

Dale, Marc, Laura, Melissa, and Carol Lee in attendance. We were productive as usual, although in a different way this week. I brought my worries about the calendar to the table, and we hashed that out. Part of my worries has to do with not knowing whether we have a place to perform this, and we talked about that. I know that our producing arm is working on it, but it makes me very anxious not to know.

To make a long evening short, we decided to keep working Tuesday nights (7:30 for those who would like to join us) for the rest of March, getting together our design concepts and choreographing the two staged pieces.

The first week of April is spring break, and many of us will be in New York City. And I don’t think I’ve mentioned that we will be having lunch with Nancy Willard! She’s coming down from Poughkeepsie, and we get to meet her! I’m still excited about that.

Then, starting April 10, we will meet Tuesdays and Wednesdays and begin dragging in the casts of Man in the Marmalade Hat and Two Sunflowers. Actually, on April 10, we’ll invite the members of the chorus to come and work on a little blocking/physicalization of their part of this thing.

Sometime in April, we’ll hold a weekend color-cut-and-paste session where we can build and paint stuff we need all at once.

We buckled down and got our What We Need and Who We Need done for Man in the Marmalade Hat. (Lurkers, there’s lots you can do. More than enough. Get to work.)

We realized that at some point we need to storyboard Sun & Moon Circus so we can deliberately produce visuals for the multimedia part of the concert. I also shared that I had envisaged staging “production photos” of that and other pieces for the multimedia, i.e., photo a kid tossing up a planet balloon and use that as a visual.
Carol Lee had done a different successive approximation of a sunflower, one using a glove. We’re still undecided between the glove and the crossbar on manipulating the sunflowers. She will work on those this week.

Laura wants to work on a prototype for the hedgehog costume. (Dale will start working with Laura’s mom’s kindergarten hedgehogs this week.)

Marc will work on design concepts for the Inn itself. We did decide that for May, we can get away with simple suggestions.

Dale will work on prototypes for the Toast Heads (the MMH’s marching band).

Melissa, were you working on something? I didn’t write it down.

Everyone is to work on visuals for the winter/spring motifs for the MMH’s banners.