Sarah and Jacob run their own company, the Lemony S Puppet Theatre, performing works that often combine real actors and puppets to create a ‘magical realism’.
Visit Lemony S Puppet Theatre's website: www.lemonys.net.au/
Read their Performer Profile.
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Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined 2020
Lemony S Puppet Theatre - Week 6
Sarah, Jacob, from Lemony S Puppet Theatre. Welcome to In the groove. First question – what is it about puppetry that makes audiences feel more than human?
When you go to the theatre, in general, when you watch something on the telly or a film, whatever, and you’re looking at actors, you know that what you’re looking at is someone pretending to inhabit a role. You know, we have that phrase, suspension of disbelief, and I think that puppetry is one step further than that. We suspend our disbelief that it’s not real and we go even deeper and we believe that it’s alive, even though it’s actually a puppet. The puppet is created only for that particular role, whereas an actor plays, hopefully, thousands of roles in their career.
Part of your collaboration, you have really innovated the form of puppetry. Can you talk about some of these innovations?
Whenever we make a work, we make a work from the basis of story and then we match the best form of puppetry which will best tell that story. For example, when we did Captors of the City, we worked with an animator called Dave Jones. He wrote a computer program which created an animated rat which we manipulated using an iPad, with a puppet animation tool.
The digital projected rat could respond to the other actors and it could interact with the audience’s responses.
Well, speaking of the fact that many of your puppets are more than human, I hear that you may have some that you could show us.
Yes, absolutely. From our very first show called Apples and Ladders, this particular puppet perhaps was once human. This guy is sort of from the depths of hell and this is from our latest show.
Our latest children’s show, actually.
And this is called Lump. This is the Picasso and his dog and this is the main star outside of Picasso, Lump. So, he’s a dog which is certainly not human but also in the design, we wanted to – if you can see his legs it’s exposed wood. The designer was really looking at wanting to combine the toy-like nature of the puppet itself and a more realistic kind of interpretation.
As well as collaborating together in your wonderful company, you’ve also established the Melbourne Puppet Festival. What is it like to come together and celebrate so many people that love that artform?
Well, it’s terrific, actually. Why we started it was because there’s so many puppet companies around Australia. Micro arts companies that have been booked by agents to go out and do things in the community. We approached La Mama about doing that because their venues are so beautiful and small and intimate that you can almost recreate what it’s like being in the kindergarten with all those little kids sitting on the floor. The last festival, we had a Cambodian puppet maker and puppeteer come and he taught people the traditional way of making shadow puppets out of cured leather and, I mean, it’s just a fantastic opportunity to learn something new from someone else.
And it’s a great opportunity also to connect with Australian Cambodians. Connect all these different communities within Melbourne as well. To bring them into La Mama and kind of just cross-fertilise our own experiences.
Can you introduce the piece and a little bit about why you’ve chose this particular excerpt?
This piece was actually the beginning of everything. It was – we developed it originally as an audition piece for Jacob when he was auditioning for the College of the Arts and that’s what this Apples and Ladders story is ultimately about. About neighbours connecting over the fence, through tragedy. And that’s really why it came to our mind to perform this piece at this time.
Things are getting hard now
Getting hard to find
Your liver’s pica lily
Your kidneys are unkind
Wake up every morning
You’d lie if you felt fine
Stick your fingers down your throat now
This Tiger Lillie line
You’re hungry for the glory
None the radio you mind
The alcohol consumes you
Pica lily is your mind
The feasting on the table
But only scraps and crumbs you find
You’re angry and you’re bitter
Your head is full of dimes
Well that sir
Tiger lily line
You wake up every morning
When the clock forgets to chime
You go to sleep each evening
On the whisky and the wine
That’s Tiger Lillie line
That’s Tiger Lillie line
That’s Tiger Lillie line