3 of 365 Squees: Puppets!

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There’s a lot of artistry that goes into putting on puppet shows, and I’m fascinated by a puppeteer’s ability to create props, to bring a lifeless doll or sock or what-have-you into a state of being. Now, that said I’m pretty specific about my squee’ing for puppetry in general, because I don’t like many forms of ventriloquism or stories about reanimated dolls like Chucky and the like. For me, it’s about the immersion into a world of wonder or a strong character via the hands of a talented artist or troupe. At some point, I’ll post my thoughts on this topic a little more clearly, but that segues from squeeing and goes into how I feel about American horror.

I have fond memories of The Muppets, and when I eventually got around to watching E.T., Gremlins, The Dark Crystal, and (my personal favorite) Labyrinth? Well, I was in love. The thing about The Muppets, though, is that this show is how my family realized I had a musical aptitude. Their grand musical numbers? I picked out the melody line and played them by ear. Many, MANY hours and lessons and performances later…

Anyway… I’m in awe of puppetry and the work that goes onto recreating an experience whether that’s through the use of modern dance, shadow puppets, or building set props or using (what my limited hindbrain thinks is puppetry, but is likely not) stop motion photography to recreate a story. For live performances, I used to go to more when I was a student because of the discount I got to go see shows–and I remember specifically and still have feelings about the art-as-educational performance put on by a troupe of Brazilian dancers that told the story of kids living on the streets of Brazil and the fantastical legends they believed. Another one, was a Japanese tale I responded to about a couple, a pot of gold, and the morals about greed therein.

So yes, this does mean I’m not a fan of green/blue screen technology when I can “see” the seams as a viewer. Flash and shock and awe don’t create wonder for me; it’s about pulling me deeper into the story as opposed to yanking me into it and giving me mental whiplash. It’s not because I’m against technology, mind you, or that those artists don’t have mad, impressive skills in their own right—I’m exactly the opposite when it comes to video games because there I can sit back and immerse myself into a longer story on my own schedule without feeling like I’m on a rollercoaster ride. Pacing is everything to me, and an art form like puppetry really focuses on the minutia, small details to bring that character or world to life.

I feel like one of the reasons why I appreciate physical set design more for performances specifically, is because I can imagine an empty stage. I’ve been on them before and after shows I’ve been in. Logically, I can “see” the elements required and wonder at how much time it took to put those pieces together. That said, movies like “9,” mini-scenes illustrated in movies like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Snow White (the Julia Roberts version) and whatnot… I really dig using all kinds of methods to tell stories as opposed to being married to one style.

So that’s today’s squee! To “get your puppet” on, here’s a nifty little site called “Short of the Week” that shares loads of short films in all kinds of genres. For puppetry, check out the haunting Cicada Princess. Thanks to the site, the films are free to play!


    Mood: Well, I’m rested NOW!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: On my second cup.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Had to unpack boxes. Erg.
    In My Ears: “Crossing the Goon Sea” by Eric Serra from the Lucy soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Age of Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur
    Book Last Read: Re-reading His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman
    Movie Last Viewed: Lucy
    Latest Artistic Project: Um…
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing. See also: need to write more flipping comics and exercise my art skillz again. Feh.
    Latest Game Release: Hunter the Vigil: Mortal Remains
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.

Monica Valentinelli is an author, artist, and narrative designer who writes about magic, mystery, and mayhem. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore near you.

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