Toy Theatre Film Finished and Mechanical Horse Takes Leaps and Bounds!

At long last our film of our Hansel and Gretel Toy Theatre show is finished, and the trailer is now online!  See below:

I hope that this will give people a better idea of what the show is like.  So if you like what you see, please get in touch!  There are more details about the show on the Rough Magic Theatre show page, (please click here).  There are details about the making of the show and our performances at Vischmarkt Papierentheater Festival 2011 and for Ted Hawkins and family in the U.K. in earlier posts on this blog too.

We have made leaps and bounds with our mechanical horse for Pioneer Projects: “My Last CARnival” event in High Bentham on June 2nd.  There are going to be all sorts of other events and activities going on in the week preceding this and there wil be a flotilla of boats down main street as well as a picnic tea on the Jubilee day on Monday the 4th, so it would be well worth a visit to the area if you can.  There are more details about everything that is happening on the My Last Car and Pioneer Projects websites.

We had been in a slightly sticky spot with regard to what to make the control rods for the horse’s legs out of.  Eddie Knowles, who is is working on the project with me, had thought originally of using the pieces of dismantled washing line that you may have seen in earlier photo’s.

It had occurred to me that although the mock-up of the movement may have worked when we used wire for the controls, these metal rods would be considerably heavier, and I worried that this would be too much for the plastic piping we had been using for the pivots.

Luckily David Clough, of Pioneer Projects, had an idea we might find some lighter aluminium tubes in a store room above a local bank.  He brought down a selection of tubes of different sizes and types, among which were some steel tubes that were considerably smaller than a lot of the aluminium ones we’d been looking at and therefore worth considering.  I was still concerned that they would be too heavy, and wondered if we’d be better sticking to the bamboo cane mock-up controls that we had been working on to get the lengths right.

That is when I made the made the break-through of wondering if the steel tubing was in fact the same size as the plastic tubing.  This turned out to be the case and meant that we could use it for the pivots as well and eliminate the problem altogether.  It looks very attractive, too, being chrome plated!  In case you were wondering, the tubing started life as a set of shelves.

I also sorted out the head nodding mechanism, which works a treat.  It will be a manual mechanism separate to the pedalling for the legs.  It’s going to end up being a bit like a combined rowing machine and exercise bike for Tim Austin, my husband and fellow performer, who will have the job of operating the horse on the day.  We also fixed the height of the seat for Tim so that his feet should actually reach the pedals now!

In addition, you can see I’ve been working on a paint job to match the trappings on the model cart horse we borrowed from our local pub, “The Horse & Farrier”.

Today we’ve been working on the “carriage” seat for members of the public to sit on.  Tim thought it should have wheels so that it looks as if it could move if it wanted to so we’re pressing the wheels we removed from one of our scrap bikes earlier back into service!  It has happened several times that we have removed something from a bike and set it aside and it has turned out to be useful attached somewhere else on the machine, so we are hardly wasting anything.  The grill part that people will sit on used to be a grill in my old van, so the machine has both bike and car components now.  We are very pleased with how it is going and feel that the Mad Max influence is definitely showing through.

Here’s more pictures of the work in progress:

There is only my M.C. automaton costume and the seat to finish now.  I have succeeded in securing some waterproof battery-powered LED fairy lights for the costume and also a pair of white trousers that will match the horse and will contrast with my black tail coat.

We took our Alice in Wonderland show on an outing to Willow Tree Primary School in Salford last week.  The children asked us questions and were shown some of the puppets close up afterwards.  This was in preparation for a puppet making project that one of the classes would be doing afterwards.  I think it was our largest ever audience for that show, there being 240 children not counting the staff.  I had breathed a sigh of relief a few days earlier when I found that, as I suspected, the new van was in fact more than big enough to fit the show inside.  No O.H.P.s travelling on Tim’s knee from now on!

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