She’s passed her ‘C’ test…

News received from home:
Ely was worried the night before, so David helped her feel more prepared, and in the morning, Carol raised her at 5:30am so she’d be ready.
They travelled to the test ground and did what was asked and she found it ‘easy’.

She’s now officially on her way in The Pony Club.

Perfection.

‘A’ for student and for Abby.

Thrown…

The opportunity taken is near complete; the week of puppet workshops and performance masterclasses, whose aim – to improve the show through characterisation is working.

The players received rewards directly, through the laughter, applause and enthusiasm expressed by their fellow cast members who watched, as we went through scene-by-scene.

And my reward came suddenly and unexpectedly, when my Chinese friends grabbed me and lifted me into the air at the end of todays rehearsal.

I was completely thrown!

Dear America, please let me in…

Declaration of failure.

Declaration of failure.

Visa Application for Puerto Rico:

I spent two hours after my day of giving masterclasses, during which I thought myself basically OK as a Human Being (occasionally quite clever even) filling in the requested information into the boxes of the ‘online’ application form for entry into the US state of Puerto Rico…

As demanded, I included education details (a very long time ago… most of the establishments have since been demolished), charitable connections (why… is America that broke?), employment details since 1986 (it used to be better paid), spouse details (Ellie or Amos?), record of arrests (just say no advised Jana), and lots of other boxes which do not really explain or inform.
I am now convinced in the knowledge that I’m a failure as a human being.
My most ludicrous failure, was filling in my name… ‘it is unacceptable, use only the prescribed letters and symbols’… no ‘-‘ then, so I’ll be ToddJones on the database.

I got to the point where a jpeg of my photo was required and having studiously saved each page as I concluded it, I ended the session with the promise that I could return any time within the next 30days to complete… ie: once the up-loadable jpeg file was available.

However, when I later tried (multiple times) to re-open the filed application, I was told that I didn’t exist.

“No matching data found.”

Well that explains it.

Sock-et set…

I actually believe what I’m telling people.

After breakfast, an hour with plastic shot glasses (cartoon irises felt markered on, to indicate where they’re looking) taped to forty socked hands.
“Puppets up”, “now say good morning… in Chinese, French, Spanish, Slovac, Russian, English”.
OK… now get into groups of four and develop characters in a story. And today – it simply happens.

Proceed for the remaining six hours to work through, character by character, scene by scene… some are more open than others, some take advantage of the key offered, others don’t realise the importance of the gift.
No matter… I’ll press on.
Rewards come when other cast members see the change and laugh in the right place.

For Light relief, press the orange link…
Christophe character rehearsal in Quito

Guess who?

Guess who?

Sock-it-to-em…

Focus.

Focus is all it takes.

Everything seems normal, till you read item two:

9:50: MEETING IN THE LOBBY FOR ALL PERFORMERS STARTING AT 10:00

10:00: ALL CHARACTERS AND THEIR UNDERSTUDIES WITH TODD (Hotel)
PLEASE BRING A SOCK ☺

11:00: LIP SYNC PEACHES WITH TODD (Hotel)
(Carla, Hayato)

12:00: LIP SYNC ELLIE WITH TODD (Hotel)
(Zhang Song, Hong Xi, Zhao Xu, Zhi Yan, Kelly)

13:00: LIP SYNC MANNY WITH TODD (Hotel)
(Alex, Brian, Li Kay, Kelly)

14:00: LIP SYNC ALL BIRDS WITH TODD (Hotel)
(Wu Ran, Liang Dong, Nannan, Christophe, Julie, Lauren, Jana, Kelly)

15:00: LIP SYNC DIEGO WITH TODD (Hotel)

16:00: THE END

This is what I was looking for, brilliant in any language, press the orange link to see…
Jana & Olga… brilliant!

Imagination is what audiences have lots of.

Imagination is what audiences have lots of.

Ecuador, 27th August, 2013…

I am permitted one day out of our hotel, to see something of a land unique and magnificent.

And find myself in…
An environment where human science is confounded to discover yet another new creature… just before human commerce proceeds blindly to destroy its habitat.
A place where the origins of life came to be understood (we are very near the Galapagos) and where our methods of war have been turned successfully upon the people.
And where, if you care to look, the planet speaks of a past & a present that encapsulates all.

Life forming & affirming.

Life forming & affirming.

Dark stain and a moon…

I’m putting my dancing skills to practical use, by stomping my laundry in the bath in time to Pink Floyd tracks as played on BBC radio 6music, who are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the release of “Dark Side of the Moon” (I was there when it hit Wales), now: far less no-good-boyo, but loving the tracks and still uncivilised, despite being in an Ecuadorean, five star hotel room – I clutch my bar of soap in ‘nought but my knickers and strum along with David Gilmore.

The Sid Barrett of the valleys

The wannabe Sid Barrett of the valleys

Life luxuriant…

A day to do little.

Breakfast at the JW Marriott, Quito is a lovely thing… unlike European experiences I’ve had with last season’s tour – the sad, stale, begrudged croissants of France, the bean counting Ibis’s of England, the empty bowls of Germany… here the cup overflows and the waiting staff simply wish to make you happy.

I’m more than happy to let them!

A three hour breakfast, with people joining me in the sunshine by the pool… I had it all.

Fresh coffee and orange juice, cereal and yoghurt, Huervos rancheros and then fruit… but ‘OH!’ the fruit.

Alice was with me, enjoying this ease, and I asked her, “could I get her something as I was going inside anyway?”… “A little fruit, maybe?”

So I assemble… in a vaguely artistic way – papaya and pineapple and strawberry and kiwi and mango and orange and I ask the maitre-de if there’s a flower to complete the picture. The maitre-de asks the chef, the chef looks at my ‘artistic’ assemblage… and with a kind face, offers to adjust it, ‘just a little’.

My assemblage is the one on the left.

My kak handed assemblage is the one on the left.

Attention to detail, but no at the cost of taste.

Attention to detail, without losing taste.

More than fruit.

More than fruit.

3SD + Get-out…

It was always going to be hard, each one of the three shows a battle – but my Welsh stubborness comes into play – ‘never give up, never surrender, always give your all – no matter the cost’.
But sometimes… too much is asked!

I find that by today’s show three, my left shoulder has stopped working, I’m doing everything with my right arm and I can’t lift.

**** it hurts!

Tell stage management after Sc8.

Melanie (our physio) is waiting as Manny exits following Sc13.

Into her room – and she massages, applies pressure, bastes in embrocation, offers magic.

People come in and watch me squirm, I’m aware of their feelings, their touch, their concern… will he be OK (and the question is not simply related to Act II).

It works… twenty minutes and I’m back on for Sc15 (admittedly ibuprofen has kicked in).

And the show is done, as is the day.

Phew.

Now there’s the small matter of get-out.

Happy birthday Ice Age-Live!…

Pyjama Party time!

Pyjama Party time!

The show, ‘Ice Age-Live!’… the 90-or-so minutes with which we began was not complete when we left Utrecht and it’s lifeless rehearsal studios, but as our fantastic director Guy Caron called it, this “Spectacle vivant” continues to grow, thanks of course to those who creatively formed it, principally: Ella Louise Allaire & Martin Lord Ferguson who wrote the libretto & music, Michael Curry who’s genius translated extremely well known animated characters into successful physical manifestations, my friends Yung Biau & Jacques who enjoyed ‘playing’, the creative & production teams, those from Stage Entertainment & Fox who continue to produce and support, and particularly – the cast & crew who week by week directly participate in putting it on. But from this list there is one missing… it is the audience, who’s minds watch and listen – in English, German, French & now Spanish and embrace it and take it as their own.
Congratulations on your first birthday… may there be many more.
Todd, Master Puppeteer & Manny #1

I’m lighter…

Up at six so that I can stand on the Equator with Sid.

Does the centrifugal force caused by the planets rotation at this point mean that I’m not as heavy? Will water drop straight down instead of spiralling? Can I return and see it properly?

Placeholder.

Placeholder.

Rehearse to believe…

Releasing.

Me, but with more hair.

I try to explain, that creating a character is less about the well created fake fur and steel, the material and the mechanical, and more about the performers commitment to make-believe.
Of course, it – the puppet/costume/mask needs to work aesthetically, but to bring it to life, requires the operator/puppeteer/performer to inject anima (life-force/élan vital).

I am convinced, that a living organism, is not simply a machine… do not underestimate the psychology of the individual when it comes to constructing a reality to which they hold, even to the point of dilution and destruction. So I apply Aristotle’s epigenesis principle… in order to generate life, or rather a belief that in our theatre… there is life.

Make believe.

They try with good grace.