We’ve been hard at work writing and recording the score (we’ll be performing the work-in-progress with live singers but recorded piano – ultimately we hope to use a live chamber ensemble). We’ll be puting up some promos of the music in the next day or so, but in the meantime, here’s a Q&A with one of our key collaborators, performer, deviser and maker Aya Nakamura, on her experiences so far working on the show. Enjoy!
What drew you to working with Wattle & Daub Figure Theatre?
The fact that they are puppet orientated company, rather than a theatre company who would like to use puppets in their project. I knew they would be much more sympathetic toward what puppets and puppeteers need. And they also make their puppets themselves. So the process of making show and design of puppets (aesthetically and technically) would be intertwined. This is how I work so I found their way of working is much comfortable to me and I knew I would learn a lot from them as well as I would have a lot to share with them.
Can you describe your background and interest in puppetry?
I have worked as a puppeteer and puppet maker for last 6 years. I have worked with many companies, and the shows I have worked on are wide range; live art type, commercial shows, street theatre, carnivals, TV adverts, short films and texted based show with puppets. Well anything to do with puppets! I am an associate artist of Rouge28 Theatre where we have created a one-woman puppet piece called Urashima Taro. This piece was presented in well-established puppet festival at Charleville in France which I am very proud of. My particular interest in puppet is a relationship between a puppet and its puppeteer and how puppeteers can make puppet appears to be alive. I fell in love with puppet while I was studying theatre design in London and decided to pursue puppetry further. I did MA in puppets and trained under German puppet artist Ilka Schonbein in France. Currently I am developing a burlesque/striptease humannette (human face with a puppe
t body). I am originally from Japan if you wonder from my name but spent more than half of my life away from Japan! More information about me is at www.ayanakamura.com
What inspires you about the story of Tarrare the Freak?
Tarrare’s amazing but sad skill is well illustrated by using a puppet, rather than using a human actor trying to stuff himself in front of audience! It is an incredibly sad story but there are a lot of elements that can be comical and fun.
How has it been working with the company?
It has been really fun and great. Laura and Tobi were very welcome to my point of view and respected what I wanted to share. But more than that, they are very generous and lovely people. I am so lucky to work with them. As I have mentioned above, their way of developing a show is similar to mine so I found easy to get into. And there are so many things that I’ve learnt, especially applying Laura’s traditional acting method into puppets and super organised rehearsal schedule!
What skills do you feel you have brought to the company and this performance?
My understanding of puppeteering; for example, in our solo show I puppeteer a puppet and perform with it at the same time. I have found this experience very helpful for the character Celeste and Marie who I am puppeteering/performing in this show. They dance very weirdly and my butoh dance training was also useful for that! And my puppet making experiences makes after-rehearsal puppet making evenings shorter.
What kind of experience do you think audiences are going to have at this showcase?
I think this show is a very unique puppet show. It’s a chamber opera with puppets! How can it not be very unique!? That’s not what you would see everyday! There are a lot of layers of elements in this piece; gorgeous music with great lyrics, live singers, shadow puppets, grotesque but charming puppets etc. I think it’s a fantastic show (and it’s not because I am in it!).