Final Filming of Hansel & Gretel Finished at Last!

Due to various other commitments the filming of our Toy Theatre show Hansel & Gretel has been dragging on over quite an extended period of time.

Indeed, this time last year we would have been creating it ready for performance at the Vischmarkt Papierentheater Festival in the Harderwijk, The Netherlands.

There were various technical issues that we encountered in the process of doing the filming that made it quite a lengthy process.

Any of you toy theatre practitioners out there who use LED strip lighting for their shows like we do will know that it can cause the recorded images to flicker and strobe.

The flickering rate of the lights is what allows you to dim and raise the light level.  A low light level is created by a slower flickering rate, which is undetectable to the naked eye and all looks great during a live performance.  In addition, levels of light which are fine for a live audience could often “white out” the colour and detail on figures and scenery, so everything had to be adjusted to appear correct for the filmed version.

Getting the show filmed at all was a real treat for my co-performer and husband Tim and myself, because we had never seen the show from the audience’s point of view before.  It was quite hard from a directing and performing point of view to know what to do and where to position the puppets (I call them toy theatre puppets, other people don’t but that’s their business) on the stage.

When I designed the show I worked up a storyboard, like a cartoon strip, for every scene. This included descriptions of the action, vaguely what characters would say and what sound and lighting effects and music should be where.  Then from that I made a separate breakdown of all of the puppets and scenery that would need making and vaguely what they would look like.  After that Tim wrote the script and I did a rough mock up of all of the puppets and scenery and performed the play in a smaller Toy Theatre.  Then going on to make up the best quality full size scenery and puppets.

So from the beginning, I had a visual idea of how I wanted it to look, but the filming was my first real opportunity to see what it was really like.  I’m glad to say that I am pretty happy with it and the dynamic, exciting script and (if I say so myself) the excellent voice performances project real power and emotion into the real issues that affect Hansel & Gretel, their parents and ourselves today.

What Parents at the moment aren’t worried about how they are going to put bread on the table to support their family?  Who isn’t affected by the gap between the super rich greedy people, (like the witch) and the poor, (Hansel & Gretel’s family)?

But, don’t get the idea that the show is all serious and doom and gloom.  It has funny bits, scary bits and of course, (the bit that everyone loves) the nasty greedy witch gets pushed in the oven and the brave, good children triumph at the end.

To those that say that a story like this is unrealistic wish fulfilment and in the real world bad people go unpunished and prosper in their lives, I say it is a story to aspire to and teaches real values.  Little people, like Hansel & Gretel can make a difference if they try hard and support each other in adversity.  Good people who do nothing allow evil to triumph.

But that’s enough moralising; I was telling you about the filming!

In the end we had to use alternative lighting to what we use in the live show, to eliminate the scenes with the worst strobing.  We used the LED lighting rig where possible and as a result there is a tiny bit of flickering on some of the scenes, but we think it is not so bad as to be a problem.

I’m afraid to say the video will not be ready for a little while yet, as there is still a lot of editing to do and we have lots of other commitments to deal with.  We are working on the automaton horse for the “My Last Carnival” celebration to accompany the visit of “My Last Car” to High Bentham.  We will be working on that tomorrow and I will have more news of how it is going, later in the week.  Tim is coming to dread the phrase, “I’ve had another idea…”.

Also, I have been booked to do not one, but two of my Shadow Puppet Suitcase Shows, (“Jabberwocky!” and “Edward Lear’s Nonsense”) at Beverley Puppet Festival on Sunday the 15th of July.  Please look at the “Where to See Me” page for up to date details of all forthcoming performances and workshops.

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