Thursday, August 14, 2008
The new stage was different from any other because of the trunks. I worked with a representative from Encore Cases to design trunks based on our specific needs. I measured the inside of my car, and the dimensions of our previous stage to determine the size of the trunks. We came up with a design that called for one wheeled trunk and one non-wheeled trunk. For easy load in, the non-wheeled trunk would sit on the wheeled trunk.
The new trunks had two holes in the lid, and corresponding couplings inside. The fiberglass poles could slip into the holes and rest snugly in the coupling. The stage would be built from this sturdy vertical support. As in the previous stage the front and back were made from wooden curtain rods joined with PVC. The top sides were made from PVC which was lighter than the electrical conduit. The curtain was attached with velcro and then wrapped around the poles.
As an added benefit, these new trunks and painter poles gave us such a stable base that we used this design principle to make a larger school stage, and a smaller one trunk stage.
While we are still looking for ways to improv our set up, This new stage currently meets all of our requirements: It’s light weight, easy to unload, quick to set up, sturdy, and versatile.
Monday, August 11, 2008
After years of experience we knew we needed a stage that was light weight, easy to unload, quick to set up, and trunks that were large and professional. We talked to different puppeteers, and got their recommendation - something I really appreciate about the puppet community is it’s willingness to share. Puppeteer Scott Land gave us two suggestions that led to our current stage. He recommend using fiberglass painter poles for the vertical support, and Encore Cases for custom trunks.
Friday, August 08, 2008
How the you transport a puppet show is almost as important as the stage itself. The trunks you use give the client and the audience an impression of your skill and professionalism. When we first started out, we to packed our puppets in a card board box. When that broke we upgraded to plastic wheeled tubs.
The wheeled plastic tubs worked well enough, but they didn’t look professional, and they were too small to hold everything. At each show we would unload the trunks from the car, strap the stages pieces to the top of one trunk, strap the sound equipment to the top of the other trunk, and roll into the venue like The Grapes of Wrath. On various occasions the trunk wheels would break, or get caught on a door jam, and the stage would slip off. We needed a solution that would solve our trunk and stage problem.
Monday, August 04, 2008
We tried a PVC stage and a wood frame stage but we needed something better. As we designed our next stage, we addressed the short comings of our previous stages. The new stage would have to be sturdy, light weight, easy to set up, and take up less space.
The stage that came next was pretty good, and it lasted a long time. The whole thing was built on a hinged 2X4 frame that sat on the ground. The vertical poles were made from PVC (keeping in mind our first PVC stage, these poles were connected together with a bungy cord, like a tent pole). The play board and back support were made from wooden curtain rods, so they wouldn’t sag like PVC. The rods were connected with a PVC joint. The sides were made from metal electrical conduit - sturdy, but heavy.
This stage worked nicely, but after a couple of years, it began to break down. The real weakness was the wooden base. Eventually, the large wooden pegs that secured the vertical PVC poles began to break, the hinges on the wooden base came unscrewed, and the front and side 2X4s were no longer sitting squarely on the ground. The stage became very wobbly, and unstable.
The final blow for one stage came during our extended run at the Los Angles Zoo. Anita and a member of the zoo staff attempted to move the stage for a special event, and the whole base twisted and broke. We managed to tape it up for the rest of the run, but it forever lilted to one side. It was time for another puppet stage.
Friday, August 01, 2008
After nearly 150 puppet shows, the 2008 Swazzle summer tour is drawing to a close. We are entering into our final two weeks, and this may be your last chance to see Space Bugs Alpha and Zeta, The Magical Misadventures of Walnut the Wizard, and Bugsy Brown Private Fly. If you still haven't seen our new productions, please visit our online schedule to find a show near you.