OVERVIEW: The Language of Things is an intensive master class for puppeteers, choreographers, actors, performance artists, media practitioners, animators and creatives of all experience levels who are interested in the narrative and non-narrative possibilities of material-based storytelling.
The Language of Things was developed by myself and wife Erin K. Orr. Together we bring over 25 years of combined experience in the world of professional puppetry, material theater, and kinetic design. Through these master classes, we seek to develop a visual vernacular that communicates across linguistic, political, and cultural boundaries.
Classes have been structured to fit a wide variety of institutions, from museums to classrooms, using the following categories:
1) Material performance / object theater. Using off-the-shelf items like paper, rice, string, plastic bags, and portable lights, participants are introduced to the emotional 'language of things' through tried and true techniques and wide-open experimentation.
2) Figurative puppetry (2 or 3 person manipulation aka ‘bunraku-style’ puppetry). Figurative but neutral puppets are used for this in-depth exploration of an intensely collaborative style.
3) Shadow puppetry and projection. Using basic lights and 2 or 3 dimensional shapes, shadows can take on a cinematic property.
4) Scenographic performance. Kinetic set pieces and other types of story-telling 'technologies'. The sky is the limit (not really!)
OVERALL STRUCTURE Participants work on their own as well as collaboratively in groups to develop 5 - 10 minute performance pieces of material theater using one or a combination of the styles listed above.
Residencies that are held over several days can incorporate other performative elements such as lighting (not provided), sound, and text based work. In as much as classes are focused on performance and not construction techniques, no building skills are necessarily required to participate.
The resulting pieces, always surprising, can be staged as informal public performances followed by a talk-back to discuss the processes, techniques, and designs.
CAPACITY: Classes can accommodate up to 25 individuals if booking one instructor, or up to 35 with two instructors. Although we prefer to team-teach in order to accommodate more participants, please note that costs listed in the RATES/BOOKING form (see above) are for bookings within the US and one instructor only. For all international engagements and classes exceeding 25 persons, please send an inquiry using the RATES/BOOKING form above and we will respond with a proposal.
DURATION: Master classes can be arranged from half-day 'intensives' (4 hour) to two-week residencies. Classes are offered both domestically and internationally.
TRAVEL: All r/t costs for air and ground travel, cartage, and accommodations are to be provided by the host. If travel to the venue requires more than 5 hours, a full day rate would be the minimum fee.
Paper, string, rice, plastic
Basic LED lighting for shadows
6 figurative 'bunraku' puppets
Tools for all styles
Supportive texts and links
NOTE: For shadow puppetry and scenographic performance, some materials or tech would need to be provided by host.
U of I Urbana Champaign
Sarah Lawrence College;
Theater Nobodies (Sofia, Bulgaria);
Physical Plant (Austin, Texas);
Flying Group (Tapei, Taiwan);
Woodstock School (Mussoorie, India);
Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles)
The Katonah Museum of Art;
University of Tennessee, Knoxville;
Teatro del Lago, Frutillar Chile:
...and countless smaller workshops in the New York public school system.
For rates and booking, click the 'RATES/BOOKING' button to bring up a form.
We look forward to hearing from you !