Beatrice: prototypes

So yesterday I got a little peek into the process of producing a puppet show! Tidsrum are in the middle of drafting up concepts and designs for the adaption of "Beatrice". (More info about the project here) Considering what these prototypes look like, the end result is going to be absolutely stunning. They invited me in to see what they're doing, and there's some really cool stuff going on in there.

Part of the story will be told with shadow play. Below is a prototype of the World Exhibition where Franz finds Beatrice. It's basically back-lit cut-outs and found objects arranged behind a screen. It's impossible to capture this kind of magic with a camera - when the lamp behind the screen moves, the shadow figures become three-dimensional and very much alive.

Shadow play

screen1

They're also working on finding the personalities for the human and machine characters. The prototypes below are put together from found objects, bits of clockwork, brass thingmabobs, old lamps and so on (the figures are sketches, too, but you can see the general shape of their faces and how they move). The finished design will lean towards the turn of the last century.

Here are some of them:

Anna2

Shenanigans immediately ensue.

The machine characters are still being drafted up, but there's some pretty amazing stuff standing in the workshop. I saw Beatrice's gondola drying in a vise.

Building blocks

More reports as the project progresses!

Update: A friend asked for a visual description for those who can't see the pictures. I'll put it here in case there are more of you out there.

So, the first two pictures are a shadow play test. The test I saw was of the scene where Franz meets Beatrice for the first time, at a World Exhibition. You can see the figures as silhouettes against a white screen. In this case it's a sheet, since we're on the testing stage. Since the surface is uneven, the figures look a little wobbly, as if seen through water. An arch frames the scene, the words "Verdensudstilling" cut out in Art Noveau letters at the top. Below you can see the silhouettes of men and women in turn-of-the century dress (top hats, dresses with bustles, that kind of thing) milling about. Behind them, the shadows of machinery rise up. (Those silhouettes are made of found objects standing behind the screen: one is a piece of a model saw and one is the curled arm from a candelabra.) In the second image, we're still at the exhibition but now the light behind the screen has shifted so that the shadow of what looks like a huge piece of bristling machinery looms over the stage.

Next up is the Anna Goldberg prototype. She's a rough-cut wooden figure with stick arms but carefully cut-out hands curled into fists. She's sitting behind what looks like a little merchant's booth, or a theatre makeup table (without the mirror, so we're seeing her from the front). The frame is made from dark wood; I think it used to be the outer shell of a wall clock. The "table" bit that the frame rests on is a block of red-painted wood or metal. A little lightbulb sits on the frame, and the block is adorned with a brass cog and the silhouette of a row of books. Anna's bent over the desk, reading a book.

The fourth picture is of Franz's boudoir: the same setup as Anna's desk, but his boudoir has a tiny cup with a shaving brush (and a toaster! I don't know why), and a mirror rests against one wall of the frame. This is where he cleans up before going to work. An old-fashioned clockface sits on the upper right corner of the frame. (it's half past twelve). Behind the frame are Anna (to the left) and Franz (to the right). Franz is tall and elongated, wearing a white coat and a little stetoscope. He's wearing a brass pince-nez (and the glasses droop downward, so he looks kind of miserable) on his very long nose. The puppeteers are letting Anna and Franz have a conversation. It's kind of getting out of hand, though, because Franz seems to be fondling Anna's belly.

The final picture is of a shoebox full of old watches, brass gadgets and barometer clock face things (what are those called?) and cogs. A hand in the corner of the picture is holding up a particularly fine piece of brass clockwork, you can see tiny interlocking cogs.