A while back, I taught a class on art and design for theatre at the local theatre company. We started out drawing costumes and making marionettes and masks - but then we hit on something that consumed the rest of the class.
It started when we made some sock puppets. Then the puppets started to take on personalities, and then I got out my flip video camera and started "interviewing" the characters.
From there, we developed a script called "Sockzilla vs. Super Puff," cast all the puppets as characters, made a bunch of fuzz balls with eyes, and painted some scenery.
We were working in a really small room, so it got a little tricky for the puppeteers and their puppets to all fit onstage at once. We learned that in puppet shows you need to really limit how many characters are on at the same time. Otherwise people can get trampled or bent in uncomfortable ways.
Anyway, it came out pretty cool (the puppet shown above was "Buck," who was our narrator and who read the credits at the end) and the students got to try everything from puppeteering to scenery to writing. So, I thought, maybe we could do a whole class that's just this.
After all, it's like shrinking the whole theatre down to a small size, so the students can get involved in every aspect of putting on a production. And, it gives kids who maybe don't want to be onstage by themselves in front of a roomful of people a means to explore all sorts of aspects of performance and theatre - there is so much that goes on, and a lot of it happens "behind the scenes."
So we're going to try it starting next week. In a bigger space, thankfully.
We're going to structure it like a standard theatre class, where we figure out the show at the beginning, and then cast it, rehearse, do sets and props, and then do the performance.
And use a lot of felt and glue in the process...