When you have limited time, improvisation and simplicity are key. In my first post, I wrote about how I came to do Scylla & Glaucus and why this show is so important to me. But let’s jump through the looking glass and see what it takes to bring a puppet show to life.
When I started conceptualizing Scylla & Glaucus, I had grand plans – well, grand and simple at the same time, because life is a contradiction anyway. We were going to have three sets that would be rotated by stagehands, and it would be amazing. However, I soon came to my senses and realised the technical nightmare that switching between sets would be – and besides, my living room, which is now my workshop, just doesn’t have the space for three table-sized sets!
So, I sat down, had a good long think, and came up with simpler ideas, considering time, money, and space constraints. I decided to recycle puppets I had constructed for a show in 2017. This way, I only had to construct one new puppet instead of making four puppets from scratch. Additionally, we would limit the set to one big main set with a smaller extra set for the final scene.
The workload remained intense since I was working alone against the clock. I needed the set and puppets done to have enough rehearsal time. Working with papier mâché took time, and figuring out how to slant a set without it tipping off a table was tricky. However, my hands usually know what to do when my brain shuts down.
Once the set and puppets were complete, we could finally start rehearsing. Sam Thomas and I had a rather daunting task ahead of us: familiarise ourselves with the redone puppets, improvise each scene, script the movements for reference, plan lighting and music cues, and finally, mesh everything together to tell a story without dialogue.
At this point in time, we are working on refining each scene so that the puppets’ movements are clear and intentional. We need to convey the story without the usual actor’s best friend: our voices!
I love a good challenge, and Scylla & Glaucus is finally coming together. From almost attempting this in 2008 to actually doing Scylla & Glaucus properly in 2023, I think I’ve cracked the puppet code!