This winter, our entire team of affiliate puppeteers and designers were called upon when FST was contracted to create puppets and sets for Holly Star, a feature-length film being produced in Maine.
The project was the primary focus of our creative and administrative time for four months, and included the challenge of pioneering the common ground between the film and puppet worlds, ensuring that both FST and the film team could achieve our goals, and integrating the two forms’ strengths and aesthetics. In the end, we were able to bring into the fold three new puppeteers and a new set designer while participating in a creative project that opens us up to a massive new audience.
We have attached some behind-the-scenes photos from the film set in case you’re curious, and will be sure to pass along information about the final film when it is released.
John Farrell on the set of Holly Star
Laura Collard puppeteers Santa, watched by Dylan Rohman and Vanessa Romanoff
Puppet Set Designer John Sundling puts the final touches on Santa’s Workshop
Posted on December 29th, 2016 by Figures of Speech
FST has been commissioned to create a series of puppets and sets for Holly Star, a feature-length film being produced in Maine this winter. The romantic comedy follows frustrated NYC puppeteer Sloan home to Maine for the holidays for some soul searching and a touch of love.
Pictured above is Santa, one of the eight characters featured in a series of puppet sequences.
Writer/Director Michael Nickles had originally written the role of Sloan as a stop-motion animator, but after seeing a demonstration of our Little Match Girl puppet, he re-worked the screenplay to make Sloan a puppeteer. Her childhood memories will be created in FST’s signature puppet style, with set elements shot separately and added with post-production magic. We can’t wait to start filming!
Posted on November 18th, 2016 by Figures of Speech
Videographer Derek Kimball just cut a trailer of the little match girl passion drawing on rehearsal footage from our January premiere at Bates College. Contact us today to inquire about this touring production!
Posted on September 19th, 2016 by Figures of Speech
The Maine Arts Commission has awarded Figures of Speech Theatre a Creative Aging Grant in the amount of $1,000 to support an inter-generational celebration of creativity, storytelling, and puppetry.
The project will be a collaboration between Freeport’s Figures of Speech Theatre and The Park Danforth and St. Brigid School in Portland.
From October through May, Figures of Speech Theatre Director of Education, Ian Bannon will facilitate shared storytelling sessions with assisted-living residents at The Park Danforth. Bannon, a certified TimeSlips facilitator, will use the model to create a fun, supportive atmosphere for risk taking.
In April, Ian will work with four-dozen elementary students from nearby St. Brigid School to devise large-scale shadow puppet adaptations of six stories generated by the residents of The Park Danforth. The students from St. Brigid School will benefit from a positive, cross-generational exchange designed around the issue of memory loss. At the same time, numerous common core objectives (in language arts, performance, visual arts, and speaking and listening) will be addressed as they devise their performances.
In May, the students will perform their adaptations for the original storytellers at The Park Danforth. Local musician and frequent Figures of Speech collaborator Dave Noyes will compose a lush, live score during rehearsals and in the final performance.
TimeSlips facilitators call the culminating event a “celebration” and it is intended to foster pride in the residents. The residents’ families in attendance often gain a newfound appreciation for what the residents are capable of as well as ideas for new ways in which to interact with them. The performances will be followed by an ice cream social…something people of all ages enjoy!
The Maine Arts Commission is an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Figures of Speech Theatre savored a moment of national attention this summer, when HUMANITIES, the quarterly magazine of the National Endowment of theHumanities, featured our production of the little match girl passion in a story celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize. Figures of Speech received a Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Initiative grant, administered by the MaineHumanities Council, to support the final production phase of the little match girl passion, a theatrical setting of American composer David Lang’s Pulitzer-winning work of the same name.
Our production takes Lang’s brilliant synthesis of Andersen and Bach and adds a layer of visual poetry to the piece, with a dance of projected shadows, puppet manipulation and masked performance. Rather than illustrating Andersen’s story or the Gospel story in a literal sense, the setting we created extends Lang’s work with imagery examining the spiritual and psychological worlds of the little match girl and her dead Grandmother.
For the world premiere at Bates College, four singers, under the musical direction of longtime FST collaborator Andrea Goodman, delivered Lang’s intricate vocal score with percussion.
After the premiere, John Farrell spoke with Amy Lifson, Assistant Editor at HUMANITIES about his experience directing and building the puppets and mask used in the little match girl passion. Lifson’s article (The Pulitzer Prize Turns 100), published in the Summer 2016 edition, called the show a “haunting, almost sacred tribute,” in which “a magical sense comes from the whole performance.”
We look forward to future opportunities to join you on this journey through the staggeringly beautiful world of Lang’s music.
Over the past year-and-a-half, FST artists have partnered with the Island Institute to work with students from the one-room schoolhouse islands off the coast of Maine: Cliff, Isle au Haut, Islesford, Frenchboro, Matinicus, and Monhegan.
In the spring of 2015, Director of Education Ian Bannon taught the students documentary gathering techniques, which they used to find their favorite oral history from each island. This past fall, four FST artists returned to each island to spend two days filming shadow puppetry adaptations of each of the stories.
This collaboration has culminated in a 35-minute shadow puppet film, The Art of Memory, which combines full-scale silhouettes, over-sized caricature masks, puppets, and a mesmerizing depth of field and textures. The film is driven by a beautiful score from FST affiliate artist Dave Noyes as well as narration from some of Portland’s best voiceover actors.
The Bar Harbor screening will be the first of three mainland screenings. The film will be followed by a short Behind the Scenes documentary and Q&A.
The show is appropriate for all ages, perhaps even more so for adults, who will appreciate the historical underpinnings of the stories as well as the engaging visuals and music!