Welcome to the first installment of our new blog series, Behind The Wheel, where we hope to give you insight into how we create the little pieces that make up the world you see on stage. Today, on World Puppetry Day, we are thrilled to introduce you to our newest member of The Wheel, Maurice.
This summer, we are presenting a new adaptation of Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Blind written by The Wheel’s Jack Read. This captivating show features a limited set and virtually no props, but does include my favorite element - a dog.
As the Managing Director and Props Maestro (as I call myself), I have been strategizing, sketching and beginning to build our little Maurice. I have been taking a lot of inspiration from Handspring’s puppets for the 2003 National Theatre adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I am fascinated by how Handspring implemented fabrics to help bring these characters to life. Additionally, I have been researching traditional Russian marionette work to help build the mechanics of our puppet, something I looked at extensively in college and was thrilled to jump back into.
Maurice is going to be a two-rod puppet - one that controls his head and one that stabilizes his body. Because we want to make Maurice fit into the world of this play, I am going use natural element s- leaves, sticks and natural fibers - and natural colors, particularly greens and browns, to build his body and create character.
Creating Maurice Step 1: Building the Head
Because I want to keep his head rather lightweight, I am going to build his head using papier-mâché. I cut out his head out of cardboard and used balled up newspaper and masking tape to mold the details for his face.
The next step will be to paint the rod that will control his head and insert before applying papier mâché. In my next post, I’ll show you what Maurice will look like at that point and together, we’ll start building character using our natural elements.
Thanks for jumping Behind The Wheel with me!
Managing Director, Co-Founder & self-acclaimed Props Maestro
Maurice is beginning to take shape!