Hansel & Gretel goes down a storm at Vischmarkt!

The Witch's Liquorice House

Collette shows off the scenery to the audience members

You have doubtless all been wondering whether I managed to pull it out of the bag at the Vischmarkt Papierentheater Festival given the amount of work we had to do when I last put a post on this blog.

A lot has happened since then.  First of all, having resigned ourselves to lo-tech lighting solutions, since we did not have a lot of time, I suddenly had an email from my local friendly lighting expert Iain Henshaw, (S1B).  There was only a week to go and he was offering to help us with our lighting now that he was free.  I explained that I didn’t think there was time for the lovely Red Green Blue LED lighting rig that we had discussed previously and we were looking at getting some anglepoise lamps instead.  Iain explained that he had various things in already and that he could order extra for himself if necessary and to cut a long story short we ended up with two strips of stick on Red Green Blue LED lights and a strip of lovely warm white LEDs for the footlights, (we cunningly attached a strip of foil paper to our floor as a reflector for these).  Also joy of joys, Tim was able to create the effect I had been desperate for with individual LEDs lighting up to show the pebbles being illuminated by the moon, (this made him very happy, he hadn’t got to play with solder and circuit boards since school).  We also borrowed some green fluorescent paint from Iain’s daughter, (most appreciated) that glows under UV light for our scary UV scene.  In case you’re wondering, UV paint does fluoresce under light from blue LEDs.  If anyone’s a bit puzzled by all this techy stuff, basically, if you have Red Green Blue LED strips like this, you can use them to mix any colour of light, with the aid of a remote control to select the colour you want.

But what was Collette doing while all this was going on do you ask?  I was painting lots and lots of scenery pictures.  Annoyingly, I only had one drawing board suitable for stretching paper for use with watercolour paint, so I was having to wait for each piece of paper to dry out before I could paint a fresh scenery image.  I used this time, however to do all of the other jobs that needed doing, like completing the corrugated plastic flats and wings that I needed to attach the paper images to.

I looked into the double sided sticky sheet that Harry said he used, but in the quantity and size I needed it, all the stuff I found seemed far too expensive.  In the end I went with an extra sticky permanent spray from “3M” the same people that make the “spray mount” I already use.  I did manage to get some of my watercolour scenery copied in advance and mounted that instead of my originals, but I was not able to get all of them done in time, so many of the pieces of scenery ended up being my original artwork.

I also created the real liquorice close-up witch’s house in plenty of time, and I was very pleased with how that turned out, (you can see it in the photo).

The music was mixed together from the various bits my musician friend recorded with me a while back.  I did this myself, using the “Audacity” software I mentioned previously, in record time, (no pun intended) with surprisingly few problems.  Tim decided to use his smartphone to play the music through my mini PA system instead of the mp3 player I had bought, because if he forgot to play one of the tracks, then he would be able to see what was going on properly, as it has a light up display on it.

As I said earlier, this was all very last minute, as everything else in my life seemed to be ganging up on me to stop me from concentrating on my toy theatre show!  For those who are wondering, I did not get the part with Norwich Puppet Theatre, the audition for which was one of the things getting in the way.  I have however been invited to apply for any other opportunities that may come up in the future and I say good luck to those who got the parts.  I did however, secure a performance of our Alice in Wonderland show at Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, and that will be on Saturday the 25th of June at 1.30pm at Holme Street Arts Centre.  I also mentioned the Buxton Puppet Festival, “Shoe-Box Toy Theatre” workshop on Saturday the 30th June from 10am in my last post, (watch out, you have to book in advance for this).

As a result of all this among other things, we had everything made, only just in time for the Vischmarkt Festival, so we had virtually no time for rehearsal.  For this reason, we unfortunately missed the performances of our fellow toy theatre performers on the Wednesday night as I felt we needed to take the extra time to try and get some more rehearsal in.  We did however finally meet Harry Oudekerk, the festival organiser and were fed a delicious meal and got to meet a number of very nice Toy Theatre practitioners who were also from England.  What, not fraternising with those from foreign countries? I hear you say.  Do not fear, dear reader; we got to know a lot of the International practitioners in the next two days.

I fear this post is getting rather long, so in order to give the subject the attention it deserves, I shall post the rest of our adventures tomorrow.  I know, I’m being infuriating to make you all wait again, but my excuse is, that we are in the middle of moving house at the moment.  Suffice to say that the show went extremely well, everyone loved it, in spite of my worries, we met loads of lovely people and picked up lots of useful toy theatre tips from our fellow performers.

Very excitingly our photo was featured in the local paper, who printed this the day after they took it, Saturday the 4th of June.  Bye-bye for now, and more news tomorrow!

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