12 May is Edward Lear’s birthday and 2012 is his 200th birthday. A bicentennial of bosh, a bicentenary of nonsense (and some superb landscape and animal paintings too). You might also have noticed it’s Dickens’ 200th birthday in 2012 as well. Lots of the way Dickens’ bicentenary is celebrated you could borrow as ideas for Lear’s birthday too! see our events page http://nonsenselit.wordpress.com/
On my wedding day I was presented by my wife with an unusual wedding present, a vintage pair of Owl and Pussycat hand puppets, old enough to have the cardboard neck tube style head. The Owl and Pussycat poem is a poem about a wedding after all, and I did meet my wife doing puppetry and bug handling for Newquay Zoo on outreach at one of our partner galleries. Like British Sign Language and bugs (the bugs get vertigo and seasick pretty quick), I found that puppets and bugs don’t mix well. But that’s another story …
We’ll come back to the wedding or birthday present idea in another – but what would you give the Owl and The Pussycat as a wedding gift? Who alive or dead, real or fictional, would you invite to their wedding reception? What nonsense plants would be be their wedding bouquet? http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/nb.html Who would design the wedding outfits for guests? And the ring if the piggywig didn’t wnat to sell his? You could design (make and eat!) a suitable nonsense wedding cake, the invitations … Lear loved nonsesnse cookery and there are some nonsense cooking in his books http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/cookery.html
Puppet theatres were a big Victorian passion and you can see how to make one on the fabulous Victorian Farm Christmas website crafts section with downloadable templates amongst many other fabulous ideas http://www.bbc.co.uk/victorianchristmas/activity/toy-theatre.shtml
You don’t need to build a whole theatre, a shoebox ‘television’ http://http://www.roughmagictheatre.co.uk/html/buxton_puppet_festival_-__shoe.html or a shadow puppet version are easy enough to rough together.
We’ve used puppets at the zoo and in gallery talks from time to time, using everything from hand puppets to an OHP Overhead Projector (old technology now, should be few lying around in schools) to proper lit from behind tissue paper or thin cloth screens and torches.
Esay puppetry? Print out the Owl and Pussycat illustrations on card whatever size you want, cut them out, put them on sticks and away you go …. paint the backdrop, use them as shadow puppets. http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/index.html
You don’t need much to make a stage – half a blocked doorway with a cloth pinned up (for the Owl and Pussycat Sea, naturally) or an upturned desk will do the trick.
The puppetry portal website http://www.puppetry.info/ has masses of useful information.
The wonderful Rough Magic Theatre from Bolton have Lear and Lewis Carroll shows using a suitcase shadow puppet theatre. Watch their video and you’ll be wanting to make one of these walking spiv suitcase stages yourself! http://www.roughmagictheatre.co.uk/html/jabberwocky_.html
If you can’t make it to Covent Garden, you visit the fabulous Pollock’s Tpyshop online http://www.pollockstoytheatres.com/index.htm
More ideas for International Owl and Pussycat Day in the next few weeks – and we’ve loved to hear how you are going to celebrate Edward Lear’s birthday using this poem or any other ways …
Now whicvh of all this will we do at Newquay Zoo on Lear’s birthday, 12 May 2012? So many to choose from?