Hansel & Gretel, Initial thoughts

First of all, I thought the show, in its liquorice theatre, should have a liquorice theme.  Therefore, the witch’s house should be a liquorice rather than a gingerbread house.  I intend to decorate it (as the theatre is) with actual liquorice.  Now, as I found out when I first created the theatre, decorating with real liquorice is a time consuming process.  So, despite my initial thoughts on creating everything, puppets included from liquorice, I thought that it would not really be practical.  Plus, in terms of the story, if Hansel and Gretel are to be surprised by a house made of liquorice, it would make no sense for everything else, including Hansel and Gretel to be made of liquorice too.

Secondly, I intend to create a unique theatre piece with unique sets, characters, and script.  I have the fortune to have married Tim Austin, who is among other things a script writer and a Dramaturg, so he will be helping on the devising/script writing side.

Painting with watercolours is one of my skills, so I intend, (like the early toy theatre practitioners) to design and paint the characters and sets myself.  However, this poses the first of the problems that I hope to attract all of you toy theatre veterans to help me solve.  Is it better to paint everything on watercolour paper and then photocopy them to preserve the originals in case of accidents etc.?  What sort of glue is best to attach the paper to the backing card?  Is backing card the best thing to use and what are the alternatives?

I am thinking of using corrugated plastic to build the scenery onto, though I believe some people use foam board.  I also heard someone else suggest aluminium sheet of the type that printers use as a good thing to back characters with.  Another poser is whether it is possible to waterproof or coat characters in such a way that does not make them too shiny, as I ruled laminating the characters out for this reason.

The final question I am struggling with is the lighting.  Is it possible to recreate a proper theatre lighting rig in miniature through the cunning use of LEDs?  In an ideal world I need a battery operated setup, as this will free me up to do performances in a tent outdoors if I want to.  It would also be useful dramatically to be able to dim the lights.  I would like to have warm white LED footlights and the potential to use different colours to denote moonlight, firelight, evil wicked witches etc.

Your opinions please, everyone –


2 thoughts on “Hansel & Gretel, Initial thoughts

  1. These are fantastic photographs, did you visit Bali yourself? I don’t suppose you happen to know if they still have the women watching the shadows and the men watching the actual puppets do you? I am a puppeteer myself and a lot of my work is performing with shadow puppets, I do making workshops too, but I have never been lucky enough to visit Bali or Java. The ones I make are made of cardboard which is awfully good for recycling cereal boxes and the like. I’ve just started a new blog at puppetlady.wordpress.com
    So do come and check out my shadow puppets.

    Thanks for the compliment! Yes, I went to Bali to capture the images you’ve seen on my blog. It was part of a photography workshop I attended through VII Photo Agency. You should try and visit Bali if you get the chance. It’s a wonderful place, you won’t regret it. The puppets are projected behind a white screen. A gas lamp is used to cast shadow on the screen. The puppeteer is a male person called “Dalang” and Dalangs are well respected by the viewers and highly considered as “priest” or someone holy because of their knowledge of the story behind the puppets. The shadow puppet is very popular among the locals, mostly kids.

    I like your blog as well. Very informative. Although I was wondering how did you find out about my blog?

    thanks so much!


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