Happily one of those jobs was working on the Living Earth project with the University of Bristol at Sunflower and Greenman festivals.
Our task was to create a show telling the story of living beings over four and half billion years. Simple, right?
We wanted to use our existing puppets to get to know them a bit better and in order to keep a common thread though-out the time-hops we decided to use them as two central time travelling characters who leapt into the bodies of various creatures over time.
In fact, I need to back track a bit to what we'd done with them already. We'd been playing with them by using real life audio, naturalistic verbatim recordings such as The Listening Project. We booked ourselves a performance at ¡hen~dø and used characters and audio from a documentary I'm somewhat obsessed by called Streetwise. It's about people training to become black cab drivers and taking 'The Knowledge' and is full of wonderful characters. Here's a little clip.
So to switch to the madcap, time travelling, child friendly show we needed for Living Earth was quite a leap! We chose some creatures that appealed and were appropriate for the era's we were moving through, which were; protozoa, dinosaurs, chimps and early humans. I then set about making Barold and Dougie (the puppets had found a name each) a set of costumes.
One of the of things I learnt is that it would have been much easier to make these as bodies with a head that could be attached and removed, as doing quick costume changes on puppets under a table was quite a challenge! But I enjoyed making the costumes and they came out really cute.
The show was lot's of fun to make and perform. We were joined by Alan Kennedy, who came up with and co-ordinated the Living Earth project. Alan cameo-ed as a variety of creatures who colourfully explained the evolution we were moving through (and covered our costume changes). We hadn't had a chance to do a rehearsal with an audience, so we learnt a lot from the first show about what we needed to do to engage (and cordon off!) our young audience and from then on we had a show that was enjoyable, silly and perhaps even a bit educational.