In June 2012, I was the recipient of the Terry Fator Scholarship to participate in the writing strand at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center as part of the National Puppetry Conference. While at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center I worked on the script for Object of Her Affection under the mentorship of Ronnie Burkett and movement with Alice Gottschalk.
Object of Her Affection is a solo puppetry and object performance art piece centered on a woman, who in her search for true love develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects. In this unconventional love story, puppets and performing objects are a primary through-line, as I explore the synesthetic relationship between objects and personalities, and ways that objects can occupy more than one meaning at any given time. Object of Her Affection is a visual narrative about human beings (flesh and blood) developing intimate relationships with inanimate things and the universal development and loss of relationships we encounter on our journey through life.
Object of Her Affection follows the emotional journey of protagonist, Andrea Lowe, after she has mysteriously fallen from a building. In her last moments, she reflects on her meaningful relationships starting with her first love, a baby’s blanket. As an adolescent, she loses her virginity to a bad-boy hunting rifle and subsequently becomes infatuated with the Berlin Wall. As Andrea evolves, so do her desires. In adulthood, she forms doomed relationships with monumental structures: a high-profile statue, tragic twin skyscrapers, and a bridge who cheats. Each of these relationships has a profound effect, shaping Andrea’s views on life and love. Finally, she finds solace in Roy, a crumbling tenement who ultimately fails her.
I went on to perform Object of Her Affection went at REDCAT for the 2014 New Original Works Festival and Automata as part of a workshop/residency in Los Angeles. Excerpts have been performed at Bootleg Theater (Los Angeles), REDCAT (Los Angeles), Muckenthaler Cultural Center (Fullerton, CA) Automata – Full Reading (Los Angeles), Eugene O’Neill Theater Center (Waterford, CT), Automata – Excerpt/Reading (Los Angeles), and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center – Excerpt/Reading (Waterford, CT) with funding from the Jim Henson Foundation, The Center for Cultural Innovation, The Anna Sosenko Trust, and Hatchfund.
More About Terry Fator from Wikipedia
Terry Wayne Fator (born June 10, 1965) is a ventriloquist, impressionist, comedian, and singer from Dallas, Texas. Fator does ventriloquial impersonations, and uses 15 different puppets in his act. He was the winner of season two of America’s Got Talent, and received the million dollar prize. The following year, he was signed on as the headliner at The Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada with a five-year, $100 million contract.
More on Ronnie Burkett from Wikipedia:
Ronnie Burkett is a Canadian puppeteer, best known for his original theatrical plays for adults, performed with marionettes. Burkett, who hails from Medicine Hat, was the puppeteer for Ralph on the TV Ontario series Harriet’s Magic Hats during seasons three and four.
After winning a regional Emmy Award in 1979 for the puppets in “Cinderrabbit” on PBS in the US, Burkett formed his own theatre company in Alberta in 1986. His early works included Fool’s Edge, Virtue Falls, The Punch Club and Awful Manors. In 1994, his work Tinka’s New Dress was his international breakthrough, winning two Dora Awards, four Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards and a special citation from the Obie Awards. Performed internationally, Tinka’s New Dress was the first part of a trilogy which continued with Street of Blood in 1999 and Happy in 2000. He also won a Chalmers Award in 1996 for Old Friends, a piece commissioned by the Manitoba Theatre for Young People. In 2009, Burkett received the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre for design.
His work, Provenance, was performed for the first time in October 2003, premiering at Theatre Network in Edmonton. In November 2007, he finished touring his show 10 Days on Earth that premiered at CanStage in Toronto in April 2006. In October 2008, he premiered his quasi-autobiographical show, Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy, at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton; the show toured several cities in Canada, the UK, and Australia through late 2009. In 2011-12, he did an extensive Canadian tour of his new play, an apocalyptic comedy, Penny Plain. His latest work, The Daisy Theatre, inspired by underground Czech marionette theatre, is part improvisation and part cabaret and includes short vignettes penned by other Canadian playwrights.
Burkett usually writes his own scripts. Appearing onstage throughout each performance, he manipulates and is the voice of every character, from newborn ducks to dying mothers, Christ and Satan and everything in between.
More about Alice Gottschalk from the National Puppetry Conference website:
Alice Therese Gottschalk built her first marionette at the age of sixteen. She is now teaching as a guest professor at several Universities such as the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Stuttgart and the University of Education in Heidelberg. Alice studied many years with Professor Albrecht Roser, as well as at the acting school Ernst-Busch in Berlin, and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart, Germany where she received her Diploma for Puppetry. Alice is travelling with her own shows throughout Germany and the World. She also directs, performs and designs for other companies (i.e. the State Theatre of Stuttgart).
The mission of the O’Neill’s National Puppetry Conference is to encourage puppet artists to create and communicate through the visual and kinetic form of the puppet, to push beyond their personal boundaries, and develop new works for puppet theater. Participants collaborate with renowned guest directors, puppet artists, and playwrights to develop innovative productions conceived by guest artists, as well as presentations initiated by the Conference participants.
For eight days each summer, puppet artists have the opportunity to explore various performance styles through rehearsals and workshops on writing, music, marionettes, and more. Puppet artists also have the option to gather before the main conference for three days of intensive workshops. The main conference culminates with two public performances, featuring new works which explore the extraordinary range and power of the puppet.