Monday, 27 February 2017

Johana Vavřínová on learning the Blind Summit method

At the start of this year, Mark went to Theatre Drak in Czech Republic for 3 weeks of R&D. 

We interviewed one of Drak's puppeteers, Johana Vavřínová, about her experience and the Blind Summit method... 

How did you come to work at Theatre Drak?

I have been puppeteering since my childhood, when I joined a local drama club aged 9. It wasn't written anywhere, but puppets were the only means of our acting expression. I loved the combination of live music, singing and puppeteering. I passed exams for DAMU (Academy of Performing Arts in Prague – Departement of Puppet and Alternative Theatre), freelanced after graduating and found Drak in 2013. It was a great pleasure and honor for me to be full time employed at this theatre with a long history, full of great actors and puppeteers. Every day I learn a lot from them.

Can you tell us more about your R&D with Mark?
The main goal of that workshop was to animate the puppet. Three people, one puppet, bunraku style, that's a big challenge. In Japan they are working on it lifetime and we had just 16 days! But there were some moments when we were close to how it should look like. So happy moments...

How is this different to projects you've done before?  
We use puppets as a symbol, metaphor, image. We are not used to doing things with the puppet people can do. In this case we hide puppets and use live actors. With Mark we were learning how to truly exist with puppet on the stage, how to make the movements of the puppet as realistic as possible.

Tell us 3 things have you learnt about Mark's approach
1. Mark's method: breath in – pause – movement – speak. Breath gives the impulse for the body.  
2. the character of the puppet is not in its voice, but in its movement, each part of the body has its vocabulary
3. Ambition, fail, cover. Each puppeteer has a specific ambition at the time, for example go to the right with legs. But when the body and the head don't follow him, he fails and he has to cover this ambition. Exploit the ambivalence!

And finally, what is your top 'puppet tip' from these rehearsals? 

For maintaining the suspense, which is so enjoyable for the audience, find the problems, not the solutions, because problems are interesting, solutions are dull. 

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