From FSU Art BFA ’20 Diana Robertson:
When first starting on preparing a creature puppet performance for the Late Night Puppet Slam at Dragon Con, COVID-19 was not at a point in which performances of all kinds were either being cancelled or moved to online formats. The concept of the piece was initially intended for the large, dark ballroom space the Slam is typically held in, but as time progressed the piece began to adapt to the possibility of being filmed for a virtual format. With the physical Dragon Con being cancelled and moved to a virtual format, the virtual adaptation plan will be the way the piece will be delivered.
Creating creature puppets with a variety of materials ranging from foams to servo motors and more can be a challenging task under normal circumstances. With self-isolating and the one trip I was able to make to my studio for supplies before the restrictions were placed on who could be on campus, the task was even more challenging. However, it has proven to be a challenge that has allowed me to quickly adapt to what making creatures may be like for a great deal of time now. As someone who has also been paying attention to how other creature/puppet makers and puppeteers have been adapting with live performances, I have been able to observe and consider my own options in adapting my performance with a relatively decent amount of time to be able to make the switch from a live to recorded version of what I originally envisioned to maintain the atmosphere I wanted to obtain in the live space. Many have not had similar good fortune in how much time they had to adapt and I am very grateful that I have the time, some prior experience, and the support of an incredible supervisor to create work that I will be proud of.
What I am learning from working on this performance went from growing in concept, fabrication, and puppeteering skills to being in a situation that is teaching me far more about adaptability, flexibility, and planning which I will be able to use for any work and the rest of my career. The original goals I had going into this are the same at their core but have altered with the times while I am learning even more than I had intended. Seeing how the global puppetry community has come together virtually during these past few months to support one another and create works has been a constant inspiration. With this inspiration, I am now even more excited than before to be creating and sharing my work.