If I had to sum it up with one word, I would say – kindness.
If I had to sum it up with one sentence, I would say- The O’Neill is a place of excellence.
If I had to sum up my own personal dialogue in my brain throughout that week, with one word, I would say- turmoil.
How do all of these exists in one realm is still a mystery to me. I was surrounded by fascinating, talented, brilliant puppeteers, most of them had the highest aura of kindness there is to have, and I was fighting it every minute.
Martin Robinson is whom I must take off my hat for. It was 5-6 hours every day, of constant (for me) new, challenging, theatrical and therefore threatening my comfort zone and everything else, of techniques, approaches, thoughts and questions. I knew everything he told me, everything from years of studying piano, painting and sculpture, dance and being. But then he said it, and I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t have a clue that it existed in theater, and most specifically, puppet theater. This is mind blowing, I did not start making puppets yesterday, or theater, or play. I’m awesome at that! A real pro. But when people are in the room, and when there is a method, not just a hunch, I was confronted with a very large gap, of what I thought I knew, of what I thought I’m good at, to what it’s actually about.
I guess that’s called growing up, or making art. This past week at the conference was mind blowing to me in ways that will probably take me months to decipher. That is very angering to someone who takes herself seriously as a constant learner, motivated, passionate, and open. Very angering, and then, it’s exactly what growing pains are, I remind myself.
It was very hard for me to look at my excellent self and say, darling, you got a longer way to go if you wanna get it. So do what you know is best – be kind, don’t judge yourself, and play. Isn’t the motto of that place is about try try again, or please fail, or something like that? It can be a double edge sword though, which may be the nature of these gatherings, where an experimental and open approach with a claim for failure is spoken with heart and intimate knowledge of what a creative process is about, and yet, when one needs to perform, we all want the very best and nothing less. Especially if we were so good from the beginning to go to this place.
It seems like we all have secret agendas with ourselves, those we keep secret, and those that are kept secret from our own selves. How sophisticated are you, is perhaps where things get really deep and difficult, where we are the puppets and the agenda is puppeteering us.
So I cried a lot, I was in true and loud turmoil (loud in my own brain, quiet outside). Not to add, that my birthday was that week, and I told no one. Except for one, at the end, after it happened (and another bcs of FB, it was a passive admittance). I broke my promise to stay in my comfort zone, away from people. That is probably quite stupid to think you can do that in such an intense conference. And theater is all the time about and with people people people! God, how do you guys do it? I had to miss Master classes of amazing people so I can go to my room and feel what it’s like to be alone. I couldn’t bear another minute.
How does that turmoil take place in a place of such excellence and kindness, is still unclear. Back to Marty’s class. It took me 5 minutes into his class to get that he is a very mindful person. But not just regular kindness, real one. One that allowed him to be open to us, his students, with so much patience, so much openness and so much support, is insane. I teach, and I’m not half that. I also am not teaching what he is (i.e. what I hope I will be able to do one day, my personal agendas). In any case, it was a lesson every minute, beyond the skills he gave us, which were plenty, at least for me knowing nothing about all these techniques (having ‘invented’ my own), it was not that as much as it was his delivery. I was blown away. When I see people like that, or like Tara Brach, or Richard Davidson, who are about the brain, about mindfulness, that practice—when it happens in front of you it is a very loud experience of humbleness.
I want to mention a specific moment that was rare for me. I sat for lunch, which ended with me and 3 dudes- Mike Oleon, Madison J.Cripps and Beau Brown. These 3 guys love Wolfy, and not until I got to the O’Neill did I know about it that much. It was so amazing, because they simply rapped on Wolfy. That is such a bizarre experience, it is my voice, my thoughts, redirected and spoken in a similar tone but with words I don’t own up to. I had planted Wolfy inside them, with my one and first time live performance at Atlanta. It was so funny my stomach hurt so bad from laughing. Here I was surrounded with only 3, but what a wonderful 3 souls who understood and loved Wolfy. When it is that real, the understanding and love, the gift is so large, and so very much humbling.
Another moment was when Fred Thompson from the shop said, “Oh that’s not a problem I will do it for you.” I didn’t know who he was, in retrospect, I understand he is there to help us, but he was so cool about it, and so supportive, that somehow I left my puppet with him and he made the mechanism for the wings to fly on my bird. After that, he also listened to me complain, saw me cry, comfort me, make me laugh and make me feel at home. How amazing is that?
Then Marty again. There are many moments, but one of them was when he came to the Farmhouse where I had my room, and he sat for half and hour and drew for me a mechanism for Wolfy. Before that Matthew, the crazy talented guy also drew a mechanism for me. But here was Marty giving me a private lesson with his 30 years of experience, just for Wolfy and me. What a mechanism, I will have to now go and break my head till I crack that one out, what a lesson. How kind can one be?
And many more wonderful moments include more wonderful people, those who puppeteered for me, those who taught me voice, and directing, and movement, and listening once more.
I can go on and on but I will stop here. I just want to say that learning this past week at the O’Neill was worth my turmoil. And I also want to say that it’s ok to not know. And, I still want to be a wolf, and I still want to eat the world!
Leat Klingman June 24, 2012
Photo credit to the lovely Stacey Polishook
Furry puppets, Curious films, Colorful photos and Secret sketches, displayed with a touch of a humorous soul, for the brave and young at heart!
Leat Klingman has put up a small retrospective of her artistic process, unfolding the transition she made
from having been a visual artist [painter, sculptor] to becoming a joyful filmmaker-puppeteer!!!
Gather for the special WOLFY’S JOURNEY screening event, on FRIDAY JUNE 1st @ 7pm
Please come at 6pm to see the exhibition, and stay for the film!
Come for the Bushwick Open Studios:
SATURDAY, JUNE 2nd– & SUNDAY, JUNE 3rd, OPEN BETWEEN 4:30-6:30pm
Arrive to see the Grand Puppet Slam event, on FRIDAY, JUNE 22nd @7pm
Here is a link to a sneak preview of the show!
All events will take place at: Arts@Renaissance, 2 Kingsland Avenue (corner of Maspeth Avenue).
Enter via Garden Level; in Brooklyn, NY. By train- take L to Graham stop.
This event is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council, Inc. (BAC).
Wolfy & Rima have performed last Sunday, December 18th, at the Voice4Vision Puppet Festival’s Puppet Slam.
It was my 3rd live performance– I can still count it on one hand! I was more relaxed knowing that the lovely and talented Rima will be on my (Wolfy’s) side, but it was still a leap of faith for me. Performing in an enclosed space, with a mic, means that people actually get to hear me being Wolfy, and be intimate with what Wolfy is offering. Placing myself in such a position, in addition to being the opening act of the evening, put me in a very vulnerable state. I welcome such state with fear and wonder. For me, the place where art stems from and aims to, is exactly that place where all weapons are down, and even though I transmit myself via a furry object, I hope to succeed in touching people’s hearts, desires and fears.
I felt it was achieved, and upon seeing the clip on youtube of our performance that night, I was reminded I need voice lessons…
This wonderful evening was was curated by Jane Catherine Shaw, Honey Goodenough and Karen Oughtred. My deepest thanks to these lovely people for helping make this lovely evening come to life. This great still of Rima and myself was taken by Lee Wexler/ Images for Innovation. The performance was shot by my dear collaborator, Shachar Langlev.
Hope you enjoy the clip!
Mister Pink & Horsy, showing at BAM, this coming Sunday at noon. Join us!!!
What a lovely night! Many thanks for all the people who have made this night possible for me. I am humbled and eternally grateful. It was so wonderful to be able to share my film with my dear students and colleagues, in a real film theater!
Wolfy is howling non stop since last night…
This past Sunday night I performed live with Wolfy in New York. After the wonderful experience at the National Puppetry Festival in Atlanta, I’ve decided that New York can have me too!
A PUNCH evening, with the lovely Gretchen hosting, it was held in a beautiful community garden in the east village. Special people in the audience included Tova Ackerman from Puppetry in Practice, Liat Rosenthal, Melissa Creighton, my sweetheart and my dear parents!! So now Wolfy isn’t hiding that much..
Thank you for joining me this evening!
A wonderful workshop I’ve conducted with students of first and second grade at their summer camp in PS24, Brooklyn, NY.
The workshop took place over three hours with each group, over a period of three days, with support from their teachers.
Many thanks to Elena Scripps, the lovely teachers and adorable children.
CLICK HERE FOR LINKS TO FILMS:
In so many words, I will not be able to put down in writing my experience at the National Puppetry Festival this past week. It was my first, and I am hooked for life.
Puppeteers are a very unique type of human. I have met quite a few of them, starting two and a half years ago, with the introduction to my lovely Erin Orr. She opened up this world of people to me, leading me to work with her, Lake Simons, Rima Fand and many other lovely, incredibly talented and generous people on my Wolfy film. But this past week, I got it in a full dose, morning to night, five consecutive days.
Puppeteers like to breath life into any object, animate the simplest of things to the most complex. Yes, I knew that already. I’ve done it all my life without realizing it, and also without any reciprocal action from those around me. I didn’t think anything was wrong with me (I thought something was wrong with them); I just knew that I was different, and that was that. These past five days, I have found that there are others like me, humans who respond to scarf or a simple stuffed puppet, with a genuine spirit of play, awe, tenderness and joy. I was shocked. I mean, we’re talking adults here, and they love it, they add sounds, they look at how it’s made, they’re curious, and they are really attentive people. This bunch is the most supportive, loving and accepting group of individuals (and audience) I have ever met.
Two years ago I performed a short Wolfy piece live at Lake’s living room, in front of eight people. Last week I performed it live, including singing (!!!), for the first time in front of a large audience. Even though I consider myself a filmmaker-puppeteer, I am branching out and I love it. I couldn’t have done it without their support.
I felt at home.
I’ve crossed the ocean with a dream and one suitcase. I have tons of stuff now, and I can finally, finally say, I have found my family.
Make puppets. Play. Share.
Yesterday, on Saturday afternoon, I’ve conducted a Puppetry in Film workshop with Kindergarten age kids, and their parents. They have all been so excited about making a puppet in the style of my puppets- when 2nd and 3rd fingers serve as the legs. They have shown a great deal of fine motor skill in the making of details and different expressions for their puppets. Some parents were making puppets too, letting their kid work by their side..
It was a successful workshop, and though it was only 1 hour long, the kids have all completed their puppets and performed with them in the special area set for just that purpose. You can see the results of their work in the video below:
Thank you for the help- Dalit, Moti, Kim and Shachar, and my special guest, Jonathan!
So many wonderful people- big as small, stopped by to watch my films & puppets at yesterday’s event at the Intrepid. I felt loved and appreciated, and was delighted to see that my high heel boots fit the little kids’ fingers as they were dancing their ways on the table! It was very entertaining, and a humbling experience to see my work relates to kids who I don’t teach and therefore don’t know me personally..
And a big hug to Timmy Young from Puppetry Arts for making this day happen.
Please extend your love and support Wolfy in his journey. It may become yours too.
As part of Kids Week at the Intrepid Museum, on President’s day they have a full day of Puppetry action. It is thanks to Puppetry Arts that this day is taking place.
The Intrepid is actually a Sea, Air & Space Museum, and is located on the West side of Manhattan on Pier 86, 12th Ave. & 46th Street. This event is happening all day, starting 10am. Wolfy & Friends will be there to entertain all of its visitors!
Abigail Wright (left in picture)- my wonderful friend and fanciful dragon- Cheri #2, has written this piece about the film and the evening of its premiere.
I am grateful for her talent, as well as her generosity. Another way to become familiar with the film, through her writing. Check it out!