I’ve made a friend…

My space

My space

Backstage, the movement is easy to map… it begins with a slow dribbling of multi layered bodies from the white outside: tired, grumpy, unenthusiastic because of the too heavy load of these continual three show days.

We watch.

The patterns become more complex, speaker announcements are made, their pace quickens, their bodies focus directed in the same way… towards the black curtains, which occasionally open – in order to send various of the strange furless bipeds out into the light, wearing odd things, that they shake before their many kittens.

From beneath the bleaches we continue to watch.

One of these grumpy, tired, bald bipeds is of particular interest.
It puffs and grunts and bends and stretches, all to no avail… as it’s strength is long past and it couldn’t kill a rat.
However, as it does most days, it’s brought a package… what’s in there today we muse?

Arghhhh… salmon.

We shall bide our time. Not look at all interested. Pretend in fact to be domestic and docile… just to get closer.

Oddly he thinks our presence is a form of acceptance and makes pathetic mewing sounds.

We do not swipe our tale, to reveal the truth… we shall watch & wait, just out of reach.

Another speaker call and he rushes away, towards the strange dead furry machine.

Just as usual, as earlier, as yesterday and the day before, he goes in the complaining machine to beyond the curtain.

It is time my brothers… no more shall we wait.

Much simpler than catching a rat… no life to give up, so no death fight, that was done time ago in the big puddle.

Simply, with precision, I pull back the linen wrap and reveal the ‘eurgghhhh’ bread… swat away (it falls to the floor) and there it is!… Beauty to behold, pink & thick, succulent & moist, four star salmon.

He has done well for us my brothers & sisters… no need to chase the chisel teeth today.

Though why he should sully such beauty with whey and curd, we do not understand.

Take the flesh and run for the dark, before the curtains open again and he returns panting and seeking our sandwich.

Shishkin et all…

Visited The Tretyakov gallery with my free Orthodox Christmas day time today, to both remember and forget… it worked admirably.
I queued for over an hour outside in bright -20degree to get in… so cold that my moustache had icicles on it as a result of the moisture from my exhaled breath freezing on the hairs and, when I was able to get in and finally took off my fur hat, the dryness of the air caused a static effect which made all my hair stand straight up (Eraserhead like)… quite a look.
Sadly, I was only able to see a small portion of the collection as the gallery closed at four, but in my brief tour, it seemed that all the art movements of the 19th century were prevalent in ‘Old Russia’ too.

Russia looks like Dartmoor

Russia looks like Dartmoor

It’s not Christmas yet (in Russia)…

Santa Claus is coming to town, but he’s bloody late!
Over tiny speakers all I can hear above the breakfast hubbub is the drum kit.
The conversation and clacking of plates would be enough, the bleary ‘Good mornings’ and ‘Easy over’ are wholly acceptable, but I am assailed… Not so much sleigh bells ringing as high hat hitting!

The cheesiest possible, crooned, rocked, salsa’d, any spin possible (even dub makes an appearance).
There’s no escape in the hotel… lobby, lift, landing all have 1980’s fitted car stereo speakers… some low ranking Olympic architect probably got a bonus for including these.

Musak at its worst, listen for yourself:

Bahh f***ing humbug

Amazed by Russia…

Russia is truly amazing, particularly its culture… in St Petersburg – The Hermitage, Moscow – The Tretyakov.
I’ve promised to return with Carol when possible.
I would have loved to visit here in the 1980’s.… in order to understand something of its Soviet era, there seems to be a huge respect for storytelling through puppetry here… no age or subject boundaries?

Wounded but determined... says it all

Wounded but determined… says it all

Wishing you well for 2015…

News from the front & back

News from the front & back

Tired but…

Three shows in the front of Manny yesterday, each before an audience of around 8000

Then, after most of the cast & crew had left, I enacted the 2hrs of repairs & maintenance to the puppets, that is fairly standard after a three show day

But there is a resource available that gives me lots of oomph

Since the bringing together of Ice Age Live… 2plus years, 2plus million audience, 2plus continents… today, for the first time, I got to see the show (I’ve watched rehearsals & runs-thru, but that’s not the same)

Thanks to another being freshly available to take my place, I was able to join the audience for today’s third show… here in Russia, it’s one made up largely of families; mums & dads and grandparents & aunties, bringing children, mostly well under ten… this does feel like the right demographic for our offering.

Moscow Olympic Arena on the right

Moscow Olympic Arena on the right

At the five, I head out and look for a seat… there’s a space a few rows back in the stage left seating.
I see, that many of the children have their faces painted and many have brought stuffed toy animals.
They are expectant and excited.

House lights down…
Squeals from little ones who point out Scrat looking for his acorn at the top of the video wall.
Laughter as he falls.
Then boom goes the music and out in quick succession come the characters they all know, Peaches, Manny, Sid, Diego, Ellie and we’re off.

As the scenes progress, I watch the audience as much as I do the action.
Little kids with mouths open, sitting on their hands, because they’ve been told to keep still, but rocking with the beat.
Some standing wrapt.
Others on parents lap.
All focussed.

– Skater girl Icicles get ooohs,
– Full costume Birds pecking at the audience is appropriately unsettling,
– The pretty of the Snowflakes in Ellie’s lullaby gets applause,
– Some are in tears as Peaches is stolen away,
– Sid is shouted at – when he doesn’t see that Ellie’s hurt,
– Manny’s “Let’s go” gets clapped,

'I Promise' causes goosebumps

‘I Promise’ causes goosebumps

– The sly foxes could come from anywhere… they’re predatory and everywhere, it works,
– Little boys stand and pretend to be Diego Kung Fu fighting,
– They clap along with Reunited’s nonsense song,
– Laugh at silly Sid’s Grandma,
– Surreal Jellyfish provide a respite,
-Spotlit Father & daughter moment gets an ‘Awww’,
– Hooray! It’s Buck & his dancing bears

Time for a toilet break.

– Scratte’s sexy tease of Scrat gets laughter
– As does Buck’s teasing of Manny,
– Little lost Peaches is star of the show,
– The Tango is a real winner here in Russia… they understand triples,
– Manny’s attempt at the lullaby is appreciated,
– Shadow’s solo gets cheered… something else for the grownups,
– There are screams when the boulders tumble,
– But now the moment… on they troop, in their PJ’s,

Sid & friends

Sid & friends

I’d always thought that Fire King was a winner, now I get to see for myself… the 4yr old little girl, with disproportionately huge pigtails and thick lensed, non designer specs, two rows ahead – who’s been insisting on standing despite being told to sit down several times – can’t help herself she’s up and dancing to Sid’s command… but mum doesn’t notice, she’s caught up in the silliness of it too.
There are flames, Minisloths in the audience and, Possums (this season, they’re achieving full naughtiness).
Rapturous applause.

– Conclusive final confrontation, the baddie gets away and the wild birds are forgiven,
– Sadness turns to joy with the cathartic reunion of waiting mother and lost child,
– Finale, and now everyone’s part of the herd,

The Ice Age Herd

The Ice Age Herd

And despite the best efforts of the ushers, hundreds of children have pushed to the headers, wanting to get close to their Ice Age friends… pretty chaotic, but quite wonderful.

– Boom goes the final chord, Lights out, Cheering, and it’s over.

There’s lots of chatter from the audience as they make to leave, I head discreetly for backstage, but I wasn’t totally invisible sitting there… the Ice Age jacket I’m wearing has been noted – the older man sitting by himself must be connected. Three generations of a family: grandma, mum and daughter try to tell me in Russian how much they enjoyed… they realise that I don’t speak the language, so they all hold their thumbs up and say “Zuper show!”

Three show days again from tomorrow… I hope I can hack it and that the repairs are quick & simple, or else I’ll be quickly using up all the oomph the audience gave me.

Ticket sales in Moscow… well over 180,000, many of whom are children.

Wishing you a marvellously Mammoth year

Wishing you a marvellously Mammoth year