Things Start to Happen….

In the forgotten backwaters of the North of England, in a place where the postal service doesn’t know if it’s in Lancashire or North Yorkshire, a place that is on a ley line, where the most interesting landmarks are “The Big Stone” and “The Painted Bus Shelter”; a married couple are arguing loudly in a house where the bedrooms are downstairs and the living rooms upstairs.  The place is High Bentham and the couple are Collette Knowles and Timothy Austin.

“What are they arguing about?” I hear you ask.  “Is their marriage on the rocks?”  No, dear reader, do not fear.  The surprisingly extreme altercation is on the subject of Rough Magic Theatre’s new toy theatre project, “Hansel & Gretel”.

It might be a surprise to those who are not familiar with the creation of puppet, or indeed toy theatre shows to hear that there are such tempestuous forces at work behind the scenes.  To those people I say, “This is theatre darling, great theatre!  And it must be the best!”  At least I intend for it to be as good as we can possibly get it within our limitations.

I have read about George & Ann Neff’s “Adventures in Toy Theatre Production” in V.16, no.7 of The Puppet Master, that marvellous publication produced by the BPMTG.  From this I have learned that it can be a mistake to bite off more than you can chew, (hope they won’t mind my saying that – that was kind of the point of the article).

Thinking about all the possibilities, though is quite exciting and I see no harm in aiming high.  We may not have done this before, and there are many out there who know a lot and will be more knowledgeable and practiced than we are; but I have no doubt that we have our own individual skills and experience that will more than make up for this.  I intend for it to be as good a production as any of our others, (and considering how much I put into “Alice in Wonderland” that is saying something).

To cut a long story short, we have completed our first rough outline of the whole production – including exactly what puppets and scenery are involved, what lighting effects we want and what music and sound effects to include.

With regard to the lighting I felt it was best to work out what we want to achieve, (a kind of wish list) and then see if it is possible to achieve it, and how.  Like I said before, I feel it’s important to be aiming high and to revise things later if circumstances require it.

Now Harry Oudekerk, (the man behind the Vischmarkt Papierentheater Festival) kindly sent me some information relating to his own very clever lighting rig.  This involves red, green, blue LEDs and remote controls designed to program what colours you want to come out of cunningly mixing these three in different ways.

Now all this was largely gobbledygook to me but luckily for me, I know someone wise in the ways of LEDs.  This strange little place, High Bentham, does contain an extraordinary breadth of talent and experience and we are lucky to be a small town that contains a shopping high street where you can get absolutely everything, (if they don’t have it, they can get it usually).  Anyway, Iain Henshaw of S1B is our local theatrical lighting expert and he also knows a lot about LEDs and the different ways they can be used.  He explained Harry’s email so I could understand and also told me a lot of other stuff that I didn’t understand.  The long and short is, however, that we now have to put together our lighting wish list in a more comprehensible order and we will then have another meeting to work out the possibilities.

Coincidentally I also met a man who makes little LED lighting effects circuits for fun yesterday, ….(hmmmm!).

So my next jobs are mocking up all the sets and props, sorting out a lighting plan and Tim will be looking at the script!  Watch this space again everyone!  <cue anticipation music!>


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