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Avenue Q: Creating the Puppets with Kosie Smit

“… You fall in love with each one…”

by Kosie Smit

If you told me three years ago that I would be building puppets for AVENUE Q, I would not have believed you and would have laughed nervously.

I have an extensive Scenic and Lighting background, and have been producing theatre for almost two decades. On the odd occasion I would agree to build creative elements for productions, but my knowledge of building puppets was very limited.

As a kid I built some puppets with Papier-mâché and they became my little actors in puppet shows. They were very basic.

When the opportunity arose for me to build AVENUE Q’s puppets, I grabbed it with both hands and tackled the challenge head on. I had to build 18 puppets from scratch and they not only had to conform to the director’s needs, but also had to be moulded on the character descriptions and personalities described in the script.

I did an in-depth study on Puppet Mechanics at the University of YouTube, and then started building enthusiastically. Every puppet is unique and has a particular personality. Each one also has its own unique problems when it comes too physically building them – but you fall in love with each one because you work so intimately with them.

I did not realise how long each puppet would take to construct. The process is incredibly time-consuming. From start to finish it can take up to 5 days to complete a single puppet. I am sure that with some practise it will get faster.

I had to create and construct unique patterns for each puppet. The patterns have to be cut out of felt and then hand-stitched. Foam is sculpted to create the different body parts.

There are 12 different puppet characters in the production but we have realised that it is too time-consuming to undress them quickly because of the mechanics and their build, so we had to build multiple sets to assist with quicker costume changes.

The puppets are made up of a combination of foam, fur, felt and fleece. All details, such as the eyes are handcrafted and the hair is made of faux fur or synthetic wigs.

Creating these little people was a daunting but exhilarating task. It was a vast learning curve for me, but I truly loved the process. I often get asked which puppet is my favourite, but I am unfortunately not able to tell as they all feel a little bit like my own children.

 

Avenue Q

Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre from 10 May 2018

Wednesdays – 20:00

Thursdays – 20:00

Fridays – 20:00

Saturdays – 16:00 and 20:00

Sundays – 15:00

Tickets range from R100 – R350 and are available through Computicket. Discounts are available for block bookings – contact Geraldine on geraldine@montetheatre.co.za for block booking discounts.

Click here to read more about the Human Cast of Avenue Q!

 

PG16

 

 

Er, well, this is where it gets a bit fuzzy. If your teenager is mature enough to see a musical about issues such as sex, drinking, and surfing the web for porn, then they’ll probably love AVENUE Q too! Only you can judge. It’s hard to say what exact age is right to see AVENUE Q – parents should use their discretion based on the maturity level of their children. But we promise you this – if you do bring your teenagers to AVENUE Q – they’ll think you’re really cool!

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