The process of remaking Red Riding Hood

From July to September 2018, was a busy and creative time in our Young St. puppet studio. We now have a 2018 remount of our production Red Riding Hood, originally produced in 1988, 30 years ago. This is one of our “small shows”. The marionettes stand from 2 inches to 8 inches tall. The opening of our theatre is about 7 feet wide. We present the show for up to 140 people in one performance, and find that small is beautiful.  The charming quality of this little bridge marionette theatre captivates and softens the heart of all in attendance.

What a treat to retrieve the characters, Red, the wolf, Grandma, and the hunter from marionette retirement. Their sweet costumes by Kathryn Belzer, still looking fit for the stage. This time around we had ample time to let the ideas percolate and worked many hours creating additional characters,  with the goal of presenting the show without dialogue. We have the opportunity to imagine the choreography, blocking and music most suited to the marionettes, sets, and props. Our goal is to uncover the story that  the all of the pieces of the play want to tell.

The Grimm’s version of this story included some unsavoury elements, which we felt weren’t necessary to tell the story. Whatever is acted out with puppets seems very real and has a strong effect on the viewer.  We knew we needed many more characters to accomplish our vision, thus the creation of the forest creatures: rabbit, porcupine and owl. We also added a cat for Grandma, and a loyal hound dog for the hunter.

We created new backdrops and added set pieces, a swing in Red’s yard, a sign with an arrow in the forest, a rocking chair, window and wardrobe in Grandma’s house. All of the set pieces played some part in the unfolding of the play.

Initially we put the blocking for the puppets and props on paper. The first rearranging came as we physically walked through the original blocking with the marionettes. We were feeling our way with the puppets, some things seemed in sync and others out of  place. We had  worries about how things would turn out for the wolf. It all came together so beautifully when we saw how much fun he was having eating from Red Riding Hood’s basket of food. He obviously  needed to have the basket at the end of the show, and creating a demise for him did not fit with the story

Finally we added the musical pieces and did more shifting about of who needs to appear when and where in order to keep it fresh, light and moving along.

That’s a bit of how the show unfolded, the photos fill in some of the details about the building of the sets, and our new characters.

Thanks for reading my post, we hope Red Riding Hood has a long and successful run from 2018 into the future.

Heather Taylor

styrofoam shape for house

Styrofoam stonehouse being covered with cotton fabric

layering thatched roof

finished house and stone wall, with mother and Red

styrofoam shape for tree, pre- covering and painting

early stage of backdrop

scene nearly ready, just missing something, but what does it need? An arrow sign!

scene with sign, wolf, hunter, hound dog

self explanatory

partially complete

porcupine

owl

cat is taking shape

some in the forest

cat and grandma

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