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The History of Scylla & Glaucus: A Puppeteer’s Story

Picture this: You are an overworked master's student, and now a show has been added to your plate to earn certain credits. Creative juices seem to be flowing from Heaven knows where!

Picture this: You are an overworked master’s student, and now a show has been added to your plate to earn certain credits. Creative juices seem to be flowing from Heaven knows where!

I came up with the concept of Scylla & Glaucus in 2008 as part of the master’s program I was enrolled in at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. I was researching puppetry for adults and wanted to explore the expressive qualities of puppets. Being enthusiastic about mythology, I thought telling an obscure story from Ovid’s Metamorphosis would be ideal to see if a puppet could convey a story without dialogue.

So the process began: every hour was taken up with writing my thesis, conceptualising the story of Scylla & Glaucus, designing and constructing the puppets, and, of course, rehearsals.

There were three of us in the original cast: my best friend, another student who was also doing her master’s in puppetry, and me. We worked hard to figure out how to use the limited movement of the Sicilian rod puppets (a hybrid of rod puppets and marionettes) to convey as much emotion as possible.

Things were going great until they weren’t. The story came to life, and lo and behold, it made sense without dialogue! However, as that happened, I was feeling savagely burnt out, and I became extremely ill.

Everything came crashing down, and I was prescribed medication that came with multiple side effects, one of them being extreme tremors in my hands. What is a puppeteer with hands that won’t work?

The show was called to a halt, and the puppets were put to rest…

That was fifteen years ago, and not having successfully put on the show has haunted me ever since. I would catch myself designing new puppets in my head every so often and imagining better versions of the show!

When Paul Glew, Rob Appleby, and I established Lo-Key Theatre Company, the choice for my first production was obvious: I would bring Scylla & Glaucus back to life.

And now, fifteen years later, things are amazing! Sam Thomas is my talented co-puppeteer, and Raven Norwood is accompanying us live on the violin. The puppets look even better than the originals, and even though I am tired right now, burnout is not on the horizon…

I think I had to live a lifetime so that I could bring this show to life in the best possible way

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Scylla & Glaucus: From Concept to Reality

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.

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