The Little Prince - My New Adventure

Life has been a little different for me since November.  I left the world of private contracting and excepted a full time position at  public high school.  While contracting was fun and let me sleep in and work from home it also meant that I never really had vacation time or a real sense of security.  Now I have a home base, I know where I am going everyday and when I leave the school I leave work behind and can go home to just relax or work on my personal projects.  Even with the 9-5ish schedule I am actually finding more time to do things I have been planning because home is no longer my work zone.

My first challenge at my new job was to design and product the technical aspects for our version of "The Little Prince".  I had costumed this show for a school recently and I had really fallen in love with the story.  Some of the costumes, such as the Rose, I was able to reuse and add elements to them that I had not been able to do in the first round. I added waist cinchers to the Rose and Wall of Roses, created additional Wall of Roses (including a version for male actors), made a snake costume for a female actor, and upgraded the tail on my original fox design. So while I had some elements for the costume heavy show there was still much to be done.
New fluffy tail!

Normal people might think to play it safe and keep in simple for the first show but that is just not how I roll.  So with a head start on the costumes I wanted to also create another WOW element for this production.  With the use of large scale puppets for the King, the Conceited Man, the Business Man, and the Geographer I set out to do just that.  These characters are rather over the top and bigger than life personas.  So we decided to really make them larger than life!

For the last two summers I have been working with Paperhand Puppet Intervention so I decided to take the skills and love for puppetry I have learned from them and share it to my students.  Now making puppets of this kind is no small task so I knew it would take a lot of people to get them built and ready for the play.  I called in the help of the schools art department and together we took on the challenge.

The art students made clay versions of the faces based off reference photos that the design team came up with.  Then we roped in anyone willing to help to put layer after layer of paper over the clay to form the puppet heads.  Once they were done and removed from the clay forms we brought them back to the art classes to have them painted.  Then it was back to the theater shop to cut strips of fabric to glue on for hair and to sew the bodies.  They were a lot of work but it really made the show unique and brought the departments together for a common goal.
The whimsy of the puppets added to my overall vision to use fabrics and puppetry to have a magical experience that would elevate the story.  I am so proud of the students for their hard work both on and off stage to make the ideas in the mind come to full vision for all people to see.
Photo credit to Mark Schultz

With the puppets under control we couldn't forget the last of the major element needed for the show.  The story starts with an aviator in his plane that crashes over the Sierra, which mean we needed a plane.  Rather than have a set piece stuck on the stage that gave the illusion of a plane I really wanted to make it look like the aviator was flying before the crash.  A little cardboard and a whole lot imagination brought our plane to life.  Actors were the puppeteers and came together to bring the pieces of our plane, including a rotating propeller, that were then assembled around the stage for the remainder of Act 1.  The plane was a perfect example of what this show took to be a success.  Team work and lots of it.  The teamwork with the different departments to make the puppets come to life, the team work of the production staff to make the visions come together, and the team work of the actors to not just remember their lines but to learn to be puppeteers.

 I love my new job and can't wait to see what magic we create in the future.

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