Our Construction Diary
Page 96



Ping Pong's Puppet Workshop


August-September 2006 - Magnolia Moonshine

Once upon a time, (Actually it was November, 2004) we built two "half-puppets" for Don Horn's Triangle Productions Show Pageant, here in Portland, Oregon. They were complete from the waist up, and were "worked" by a single rod running up their insides.

As they sat in storage, Steve had always wanted to get them back out, finish their bodies, and build a show around them.

His vision was that they were sitting on their dock, somewhere down south on the Bayou, talking about Southern things, as they rocked in their rocking chairs.

The opportunity came this fall, when Steve & his parents were planning to climb into Ken & Bobbie's 38 foot Motor Home and travel for three weeks on a grand tour of the western United States. One stop was in Texas to visit the relatives.

Steve and Bobbie could perform for the assembled family, if they only had a show.

And so it began....

Original Colonel & Miss Jeannie

The original Colonel & Miss Jeannie. Here, they are resting on their black stands. Their arms were fixed in position with coat-hanger wire, covered with pipe insulation foam. Yes, we also think he looks a lot like the Fried Chicken magnate (who, since we're a little copyright-shy right now, shall remain nameless). They were worked by a single actor, who held one in each hand and they talked to one another.

The Set & Rocking Chair

Well, first we needed a set for them to perform on. Seen in the background are two outdoor end tables that Marty's Brother Steve had built a long time ago. They would be perfect for the rocking chairs to sit on. IF WE COULD ONLY FIND TWO MATCHING rocking chairs. Yeah, right. Marty searched all over Portland and the internet, willing to pay almost any (even exorbitant) price for them. All to no avail.

Marty Builds the Rocking Chairs

So, Marty agreed to build the two rocking chairs that would fit the two main characters. Now, one secret that we've never told the world is that Marty really HATES working with wood.

PVC and Iron Pipe, Plaster and Neoprene are far more in his comfort zone.

In the past 95 pages, we've never seen Marty and Wood in the same picture, unless it was a chair in which he was sitting.

So, it was quite a concession for him to agree to build not ONE, but TWO matching rocking chairs.


.The puppets in their rocking chairs

So here is the end result. Pretty snazzy, huh?

Now we need to do a little work on the puppets themselves.

Body for Miss Jeannie Body for the Colonel

Here we can see the lower half of the puppets' bodies being assembled and fitted.

The Colonel has also had his blue plastic hat covered in white fabric.

We also hinged the arms so that they worked with rods from their backside.


Skippy, the River Snake

If you click on this picture, you can to see it in a larger
suitable-for-framing version.

It was decided that each of the characters would have a pet.
Here's Miss Jeannie's River Snake, Skippy.

While we were searching Goodwill stores for the rocking chairs, Steve found the snake, the shopping cart, the hat, and the sneakers. He added newly painted eyes, and we added a head rod for animation.

We dirtied up the shopping cart and added the (well known mega-store) logo.

The pets can talk to each other, but the human puppets can't hear or understand them.

Biff the Alligator - Before

Steve had this alligator in a box of stuffed animals, and he thought it would be perfect as the Colonel's pet. Only it was too small to be believable. Well, we found another matching one at the Goodwill store.

Biff the Alligator - After

If you click on this picture, you can to see a larger
suitable-for-framing version.

So, Steve combined the two alligators together, made a movable mouth, put new eyes on him, dressed him in a pair of kids jeans and slippers (also from Goodwill), made a hat out of the fabric that was left from the jeans, and texture painted him. And Biff was born.


All togehter now

If you click on this picture, you can to see it in a larger
suitable-for-framing version.

Here's the assembled cast in their set.

The lights are low-voltage outdoor lights from Lowes,
The fishing pole is a piece of bamboo cut to size,
the flowers are plastic, the river is fabric,
and the whole thing collapses to fit in the trunk of a car.




So, that's the tale of the construction of Magnolia Moonshine.
"But wait a minute", I can hear you asking,
"What's the show about?"

Quite frankly, I don't know.

I guess I'll have to wait until they get back
and see what has happened to it on their trip.

Goodness knows, with three weeks together in the motor home, they'll have come up with something, now don'tcha think?


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All text and photos © 2006, Olde World Puppet Theatre

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