A darkly beautiful, Lovecraft-influenced, marionette puppet play for adults, performed this Fall in Portland OR, and beyond.
Scroll to the bottom for a pledge rewards chart or build your own package
Deep in the shadowy reaches of the Appalachian Mountains lurk secrets so terrible it was not meant that men should know them. Foul abominations lie in wait, locked away in the in-between spaces Euclid dared not contemplate, aching to return to a world which once belonged to them, and one day will be in their grasp again...
The CastIron Carousel seeks funding to stage an H.P. Lovecraft-themed marionette play, The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak in Portland, Oregon in the fall of 2013. A fantastic miniature theater production performed entirely with tiny articulated wooden people in elaborate and beautiful sets.
The ninety minute performance will be in three acts with nine scenes and seven set pieces, each, furnished with a painted backdrop and props, six dramatic characters played by marionettes.
What is the play about?
The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak is an original play set in the backwoods of North Carolina in the 1920s. Influenced by the Appalachian folkloric tradition of Jack tales and the weird horror writings of H.P. Lovecraft; the story revolves around a reclusive family of sorcerers who perform a strange ritual once every twenty years. Things go horribly wrong when a stranger comes to town with a piece of the towns dark past...
This is a video made by Etsy during the building process of Asenath where you can see her being constructed start to finish.
LESS THAN TWO DAYS LEFT!
Please help us make our next Stretch Goal: Touring around the Pacific North West
For the rest of the campaign we will be giving away special free gifts with our backer rewards for any pledge over $20
Today's gift: Signed print by Geahk Burchill, normally sold for $15 in his Etsy store.
A video filmed & edited by Phil Haleen who we hope to hire on our DVD
In general, Americans are not familiar with performances by puppets, especially marionettes. Those of a certain generation may remember Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo or Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Others may have first seen marionettes more recently in movies such as Being John Malkovich or Team America: World Police. However, very few Americans have had the opportunity to witness a live performance with marionettes, an experience which is infinitely more sublime than seeing them on-screen.
Marionette theater is a performance medium unlike any other, and has more in common with animation than with traditional stage theater. Like animation, marionette actors can portray extreme examples of the human experience impossible to conjure any other way.
Marionettes are inherently creepy, naturally strange and beautifully surreal. The very concept has a profoundly disconcerting basis: marionettes are inanimate objects given the illusion of life. One never knows just where the human operator ends and the marionette begins. Every marionettist shares the experience of the marionette taking control and doing the unexpected. A lifeless wooden doll becomes a conduit to the subconscious, fusing the operator and the marionette into a single entity, born in a creative spark.
Marionettes are fiendishly difficult to operate. Every moment on stage is an opportunity for a thousand accidents: strings tangle, limbs break, performers find their muse and go off-script. Some of these accidents are unintentionally hilarious and become excuses for a performer to riff comically. These moments can be marvels of spontaneity, creating singular audience experiences that no performer can ever hope to replicate, and leaving the attendees of that one show with an irreplaceable gift cradled in the memories of those who shared it. No other form of live theater is so subject to the whim of circumstance, assuring that no two performances will ever be the same.
Despite their complexity, marionette shows are surprisingly inexpensive to produce. We work in one-quarter scale, and as a result, production and materials are far cheaper than a comparable full-scale theater show. The space we need to rehearse is smaller and the time it takes to build sets is shorter. We can do special effects with marionettes that would either be too expensive or flat-out impossible to achieve with live actors. For us, a ninety minute play costs ten thousand dollars to produce. For live theater to realize the same level of special effects, grand scenery and sweeping story would easily cost ten to twenty times as much.
The shows may be cheaper to produce but the amount of work is increased many-fold. These intricate wooden people take hundreds of hours to craft and thousands of hours to become skilled at operating.
"In general, I find the Lovecraft community very supportive. For people who are trying to bring about the ultimate destruction of humanity, they are very nice" -Adam Bolivar
The core members of the CastIron Carousel, Geahk Burchill and Adam Bolivar, are both experienced puppeteers. Between them, they have been involved in a dozen fully produced marionette plays in Boston, Berkeley and Portland over the last twenty years.
See Geahk's other work here: http://geahkburchill.carbonmade.com/
And Adam's work here: http://adambolivar.com/
Tour to Seattle! Yes, we can leave the cozy environs of Portland and perform in our favorite nearby city to the north. This $2,000 will help pay for travel expenses and advertising. All of our backers will receive an extra cast photo thanking you for your help to get us there. Anyone who donated more than $40 and lives in Seattle will get two tickets and two programs to the show. Over $75 will receive a Seattle tour poster, signed by the artist.
We made it! Premium DVD! We're able to hire help to make a really great DVD instead of just what we can do with our low-end cameras and basic free editing software. This allows us to make a very professional and nicely packaged finished product that you will be proud to put on your movie shelf. Contrary to what our backer reward says, it WILL be the full show.Now that we made it to 13K, it will get a lot of polish too!
More content in the Coffee Table Art Book. We were already attempting to pack everything we could into this book. Large portions of the script, production photos for the building of the play, a complete set of instructions on marionette building, troupe history, philosophy and cast bios. That was already going to make this book great but now we can add stage building instructions to the book, lighting control diagrams and everything else you would need to start your own marionette theater! Thanks for helping make this book even better!
If we make this goal, we can do a much larger tour. It would be absolutely amazing to be able to go to California, the Southwest, and the South. A tour like this would include the major cities of the Pacific Northwest, plus the SF Bay Area, the LA area, stops in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. With any luck we'd be able to do gigs in Colorado too! We would put a major effort into getting to South-by-Southwest and other big festivals. For anyone donating more than $40 and living in or near one of the cities on the tour, you will also get two tickets and two programs! Over $75 and you get the DVD and over $100 you get a poster for your local show, signed by the artist.
This is an all volunteer troupe, the members will not personally gain financially. We are doing a LOT with a very small budget. In the grand scheme of things we're not asking for very much and providing an amazing value.
When making your decision to help fund this project, we hope you will consider, we are doing this for the love and intend to spend every dollar with incredible care. What you get back when you fund arts like this is so much more than you paid for.
Here are some of our planned rewards for backers
We now know that our DVDs will be able to include the full show, filmed from multiple angles with lots of behind the scenes special features.
Theater is a difficult thing to film because video naturally loses some of the immediacy of live theater. We are going to be working with a very talented film maker to respect the show and create a filmed piece that works to honor the live theater experience.
A short piece we did a couple years ago featuring Aloysius, a cybernetically augmented hare.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
In our experience, every five minutes of performance costs roughly $550 to create. And that's if everyone volunteers. That, nearly, six hundred dollars includes buying materials for sets, backdrops and puppets. It includes printing posters and programs as well as renting the theater and advertising the show. It includes the care and feeding of volunteers during dozens of hours, per scene, of rehearsal and preparation or the artists, building and painting, the sets. The rent on the studio to build and rehearse in. The vehicle to carry the sets and stage to the venue and the required insurance for both the studio and the theater.
Our greatest risk is loss of momentum which has been hard to maintain the past few years due to limited finances and a rough economy. What we're looking for with Kickstarter is a little wind at our backs. Because the lack of a surprisingly small amount of money is really all that stands in our way, we hope you, our fans, associates, lovers of puppets and those just now introduced to the art form, will help give us the supportive push we need to complete an amazing play which has lingered on the drawing board for far too long.
What might happen to marionette puppetry without support? It could die out. There have been other times, when it has nearly died out, save a handful of practitioners. This is because it is a very difficult and rigorous form of live theater. It requires a lot of work to put on a show, years of training and there are not often great rewards. It is an amazing way to tell a story but only a small group of lucky people ever get to see a live show and so it is easily lost against the background of big budget spectacles on one hand, or free entertainment on the other.
Marionette puppetry is challenging to the actor and can be destructive to the body but it is also one of the most incredible ways to engage the imagination of an audience there is. No other form of theater asks you to become a child again like puppetry, and give your suspension of disbelief some exercise.
If you have seen a marionette show in the past, support because you want to see more. If this might be your first show, support because you have no idea what you are missing. We promise, it will be worth it.
We don't swear and there is no full frontal nudity, however, our plays are not meant for young children. You can think of us as being "PG-13." For example, in the Madness at Moorgate Prison, we "Executed" puppets in an electric chair in a way that was quite disturbing. The chair did not work well and there was a lot of screaming, smoke and sparking. That's what we mean by 'Dark'.
On the other hand, I saw 'Aliens' for the first time when I was 8 and it didn't harm me none. Certainly it is a choice you must make as a parent. Our plays ARE designed to give people uncomfortable feelings or, even, nightmares. If you feel comfortable dealing with your kid's new-found night-terrors after seeing our play, we keep the rest of the play pretty "clean".
This is explained in the play. It is a triple meaning. Certainly a "Creek" is a body of water, and there IS a Fiddle Creek in the town; Also bluegrass musicians talk about the "Creak of a Fiddle." That is the stated meaning given to any outsiders. But there is a third, darker meaning which can only be discovered by visiting this far-flung and dilapidated town and seeing what must not be seen.
This is a stylistic choice mean to reflect the time period we generally set our plays in, not a moral one. Since many of our plays take place during the 1930's and several take place as early as 1880, we simply follow the mores of that time when writing our scripts.
It's true that puppets are associated strongly with children's theater in America but that is not the case all over the world. We try to bring a new flavor of puppetry to our audience. There are many wonderful troupes producing puppetry for children. There are also several great troupes that produce hilarious and obscene puppets exclusively for adults. We take a middle approach. Our shows are intended to be thoughtful and entertaining, funny and dark, beautiful and disturbing. We enjoy balanced storytelling that is character driven and emotional as well as maintaining an accessibility that keeps us firmly grounded. Our shows are for grown-ups which is somewhat rare and we hope you will find them new and interesting.
YES! We Do want to make our stretch goals though and be able to bring the show to you, so encourage your friends and family to contribute to the project.
Regardless of where you hang your hat, any tickets you buy on Kickstarter will be good at any show, anywhere. So if you live in Memphis, bought your tickets from us on Kickstarter and want to see the show in Atlanta (We are hoping to perform there) your ticket WILL BE GOOD.
The March 20th show is door-only. Sorry.
We will be performing 'The Horrible House of Dr. Hadrian' on March 30th at 8pm. All the tickets here are for 'The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak' which won't be complete until September.
The March 30th show will also have mock gambling. We will have several casino games, including Poker, Blackjack and Roulette. The $20 ticket gets you in to see the show and $2,000 in chips to play games with. The event will be a part of raising money to produce "The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak'
Actually it WILL! We've actually changed that since launch. (We are not able to change the text of the backer rewards once people have chosen them) Lots of people asked if we would have the full show on the DVD and we decided we would, even if we don't get to 13K, but reaching that mark will determine how complete and professional the package is. If we don't make 12K, we will make the DVD ourselves. If we DO make 13K, we will have some paid help making the DVD as good as it can be.