Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer By Tim Watts

What can I say, Tim? Your performance, idea and production was flawless.
Tim has brought to Darlinghurst Theatre a multimedia performance that everybody will enjoy whatever age.  The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik is a story of a man who sadly looses his wife and the world needs a hero to save it as the waters rise due to global warming. Alvin volunteers to be this hero as he believes his wives spirit is in the sea and this is where, if the Earth is to be saved, it can be found.
Tim is multi-talented, he is a story teller, musician, puppeteer, cartoon artist, actor, I have probably missed some but he brings it all to the stage. His timing is precise which must have taken quite a bit of practice. The story is fairly simple, there are undertones of the seriousness of the ice caps melting, however the constant changes of media brings the stage alive and makes it very entertaining. This is paired with the odd moment of humour to make a very enjoyable 55 minutes.
Be quick and book now, (02) 8356 9987, this production will close on 11 June.

We asked Tim to tell us a little more!
What was the inspiration behind the show?

Many different things. the puppet (Alvin Sputnik) came first. About a year and a half before we made the show I made the puppet at a puppet workshop with Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Fremantle. Then i wanted to make a very tour-able solo show to tour internationally with, and some friends suggested I use the puppet. So the Alvin puppet inspired a lot of the elements, and story. He had to be a deep sea diver, so the story was about the ocean.

Myself and Arielle Gray (who helped me make the show) went snorkelling at Great Barrier Reef, which was a huge inspiration for us. I will never forget looking out into the crystal clear blue water, into the endless nothing, and being absolutely terrified! feeling so small, and vulnerable in the face of the deep unknown. we still have explored so very little of the ocean. which is so exciting, and inspiring. its full of so many possibilities. it is a creative goldmine! every time they do explorative dives they find new and absurd species that you couldn't dream up. 

Also the ocean is one of the big players in the whole climate change thing thats going on. and I love the ocean, and it is so tragic that so much sea-life is being destroyed, so I wanted to make a show that in some way acknowledged the environmental situation. But I didn't want to make it an educational show, or a show to make the audience feel guilty, or apathetic. They feel that already, I know I do, what I need to to feel hopeful and empowered. So I wanted to make a show that was set in an environmental apocalypse, but was lots of fun, and full of joy and hope, in the face of foreboding doom. 

How do you run all the gadgets so smoothly by yourself?

With a lot of practice. everything in the show has to be treated like a puppet, with precision, focus and timing. I have to operate lights with my feet, trigger sound and animation cues from a Wiimote on my waist, puppeteer with my head, and puppeteer with my hands all at the same time. the set and electronics are all built by myself and my dad Anthony Watts, who is just awesome.  

Where did you learn puppetry and when did you realise that you wanted to master it?

I am still learning puppetry. Like any creative art there is always more to learn. I have worked with Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Fremantle, WA which is an amazing puppet company, from whom i have learnt so much. I created the puppet (though its just a buoy and a glove) in a puppetry workshop with them in mid 2008. I liked puppets when I was growing up, but i like them much more now. 

I love puppets because they tend to appeal to that special part of all humans, regardless of age, that pure, childlike, optimistic, joyful part, without angst, or sentimentality, they are simple and pure creatures that just want to be alive, and we as humans really love to imbue inanimate objects with life. that is a crazy thing about us. We love to pretend, and puppets are amazing at imaginatively and emotionally engaging an audience. sometimes people cry during my show, and I am just blown away by that because if a foam ball and a glove can bring an adult to tears then that says a lot about the awesome power of the human imagination.

There is a game between the puppeteer and the audience. lets pretend this thing is alive. Puppets have presence that actors dream of. Its engaging when a puppet breathes, coughs, thinks... whenever it looks alive its fun. I aspire to that as an actor.

What can we expect to see in the future? 

Next is a duo show that i am making with Arielle Gray (who helped me make Alvin). We are working on it this year and hopefully it will be touring in 2012 and 2013. Different show, different characters, different themes, but still puppets, and probably animation.  It is tough finding time to work on it as we have been touring Alvin so consistently.

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