Making props in the Oily workshop with their production team has been especially fun for me. great to be handling power tools and building stuff but also cool to be working on tiny props that are quite detailed but sturdy as they will either be inches away from the kids' noses at the edge of the playboard and/or literally handled by them. Interesting - as with Sensorium's sensory work - to be ever mindful of safety and durability. Also, the reality of of making props in multiples so that all the kids get to physically handle them (the last picture above shows in the foreground the miniature biscuit packets (about 10cm) painstakingly made of foam and shrunk-down photocopied wrappers which became the bane of the props departments' lives since we had to make hundreds of them for the kids to find on the "provisions" hunt over the shows season!). Interesting to note that even a company as well resourced as Oily is heavily reliant in students & volunteers (theatre & design) to produce the sheer volume of props needed. Amanda says this has always been the case for them.(A bit of a relief when I think back to how exhausting it was for me to make almost all the puppets, props and set for The Jub Jub Tree on my own!). Going to have to seriously think about how we could make some kind of volunteerism work for us back home. It's become very apparent that a large part of Oily's success has been due to their commitment to keep the production values as high as possible. Amanda is a very exacting (and enormously talented) designer and the fluidity of ideas between her design ideas andthe directing, and music of their shows seems to be the key to both the integrity of their Art and the broad appeal and popularity of their output. Talking through production budgets with Oily's lovely lovely full-time production manager, Jesus Gamon, I can see that it's not uncommon for set & costumes (including labour) to make up at least 75% of their budget!! (Hmm... now to convince the money folk back home...).
Francis - Wednesday November 30