Puppetry comes alive in Alice Springs

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 08:01:38 AM. A doctor breathes life into a papier mache puppet in a new production for children.

A papier mache puppet sitting in a garden next to a box. Photo: The play Open features a puppet called Pocket, who opens a magical winged box. (ABC Alice Springs: Emma Haskin)

The ancient art of storytelling through puppetry has been revived by a doctor in Alice Springs.

Katelnd Griffin has developed a narrative, her own papier mache characters and a whimsical soundtrack for her 30-minute production aimed at young children.

A small girl named Pocket is the star of the show called Open, in which a magical winged box one day appears on her doorstep.

"I made Pocket. It's taken quite a long time. I moulded her face and she's made out of papier mache," Dr Griffin said.

"Her dress is made out of fabric. Other parts involve wood and wire and glue. She's been quite a big project."

Not only has Dr Griffin created the characters, she has also written the story and the music.

A close-up on a woman with medium length red hair, wearing a green top. Photo: Katelnd Griffin has worked with other performers to develop the play. (ABC Alice Springs: Emma Haskin )

"When I create shows I usually start with a playlist. I put together some music, which inspires me and the feeling that I want the show to have.

"Then I write down ideas about characters and situations that happen to them, and we then go into the rehearsal space and start to play with those ideas."

It is through this process and working with her other performers that the storyline is developed.

Opening the music box

Music plays an intrinsic role in the play, given there is not any dialogue between any of the characters.

"None of the characters talk, so it's all done through gesture, physical theatre and I guess facial expressions and movement," Dr Griffin said.

"The music carries all of that for us. It creates the mood and atmosphere. It can be really playful or really sweet or a bit sad or melancholy."

Despite Pocket's small stature, she requires two performers to make her move.

"She's got a hand here in the back of her head and another one in the back of her body," Dr Griffin said.

"A lot of the time her body keeps still. Then you can grab her hand and move that around, or one person walks her feet while the other one moves her hand.

"So there's a lot of teamwork between the two puppeteers.

"They have to work hard together to learn each other's movements."

External Link: Katelnd Griffin Opens the box on her new puppet show

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