Saturday, December 3, 2011

recycle, reuse, repurpose!

Most of the time Luna is played by Kaitlyn, a real person. But sometimes she is a puppet. Here is puppet Luna being pieced together out of 3 sheets of board, made so that her arms and legs can move while she swims in the sea. Using discarded materials as much as possible is important to this puppet company, as we think there are more then enough good materials thrown out to make a million puppet shows. More puppets, less waste! Below, Judy paints stripes on the puppet theater made from a rescued cardboard box, while Tula the dog tries to get into the show herself!

Friday, August 5, 2011

inexplicable octopi

More to earth and sea then is dreamt of in our philosophies, indeed...


Thursday, August 4, 2011

beluga mariachi, part 2!

Yesterday the video of Juno dancing to the mariachi band went viral, showing up everywhere including the Today show this morning. Congratulations to William Kurtz who caught the moment, and Kim and Kevin who chose to have mariachi players at their wedding with the belugas in the first place! The whole wedding was just as magical, Linda caught Kim's entrance on her iPhone, moments before the now famous beluga dance. We think Juno was put in a dancing mood by Kim's amazing jelly fish veil as much as the band.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

beluga mariachi!

Our friend who is also a puppeteer of aquatic persuasions, Kim Mikenis, got married to her sweetheart artist Kevin van Aelst at the Mystic Aquarium last Friday. The Los Trovadores de America mariachi band serenaded a beluga whale, and it was wonderful!

Friday, July 15, 2011

new time!

Luna's Sea now starts at 10:30 am, but come a little early and say hello to The Mermaid Statue and some other curious characters before the show. And afterwards stick around to meet the puppeteers...and the puppets!

Friday, July 1, 2011

TWO shows this weekend!

Just for the 4th of July: our regular Saturday show, now at 10:30am, plus a SUNDAY show at noon. And for both you can get the July Special, the show plus the aquarium for $25. Stellar! Click here for tickets online, or call (800) 595-4849.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ticket deal of the week

This Saturday! Get Luna's Sea and full day entry to the Mystic Aquarium for $25! Call our box office: 800-595-4849.

Octopus Wednesday!

We just learned that an octopus has three hearts, and almost 2,000 suction cups on its tentacles. They are very smart, and they've been known to escape tanks and steal objects. And there are all kinds of octopuses (or octopi!), 300 species in fact! some with "ears" (called a dumbo octopus), some which imitate other animals (a mimic octopus).

Our octopus is pink, likes to dance, and is made out of something you might have at home. He is so big it takes 5 puppeteers to operate him on stage. And his suckers glow!

Here are some other fascinating octopi:

Monday, June 20, 2011

the making of Pete: part 2

Here's a little video Linda put together from when she was testing out Pete the penguin in the very beginning, when he was just foam and a wooden beak!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

the making of Pete: part 1

Our star puppet, Pete, begins as Luna's stuffed toy and turns into a cavorting penguin always just out of Luna's reach when she falls into the Moon's puppet show. We went to the aquarium and watched the real life African penguins for many hours before making Pete. But Linda couldn't help but see the similarities to her cat Wilson, in size, coat pattern, and playful personality. As Linda worked on Pete, she checked in with Wilson to get his opinion. In the beginning he wasn't sure what to think.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

a new new video!

Our second video for Luna. See all our videos, including some behind the scenes puppet making, at our new youTube channel, Giant Pink Octopus!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Did that statue just blink?

At Luna's Sea the show isn't just inside on a stage. Your journey with Luna under the sea starts outside the theater, with some unusual characters including the famous mermaid statue! Stop a minute on your way in and see how statuesque this mermaid really is, she might surprise you.

The mermaid statue even has a facebook page here!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

hello, octopus!

Our giant, pink, glowing, tango-dancing octopus is resting between shows. We think he needs a name. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"A Fantastic Journey to the Depths"

Artist, violinist and mom Erika Cleveland came to Luna's Sea with her son and wrote this wonderful article about their experience, with some fun pictures. Read it here! Thank you so much, Erika!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Luna's creators: Matt Maynes

One thing an audience doesn't think much about is lighting, but it's one of the hardest, most important parts of a show, especially one like this. Everything relies on the right light, from tiny 2 inch puppets, to giant 12 foot ones. The light has the job of making an ordinary old stage look like an underwater world. And we have added black light and LED effects which are extraordinary elements to work with. But our lighting designer achieved all of this!

Matt Maynes (lighting designer) has worked with Cornerstone on the past ten shows, both on and off stage. He graduated from Marist College in 2008 with a degree in Communications. He is also the front man for the band Johnny Mainstream, who released their debut album Shipwrecked this February.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Grace Lin visits!

Linda with Newbery Award winning children's book author and illustrator extraordinaire, Grace Lin, who made a special visit to Luna's Sea with her husband Alex. She wrote about it in her blog here, with some great pictures and video. Thank you, Grace! Find her incredible books on her website.

Have you written something about Luna? Send us a link so we can share it here!

Alex tempting the angler fish!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ann Nyberg visits!

We were honored to have a special visit from News Channel 8 anchor Ann Nyberg last week. We brought out all the puppets for her, and they all stayed on their best behavior, even the angler fish! Ann wrote us up in her terrific Network Connecticut blog, which highlights the best (and the best-kept-secrets) of the state. Check out her story about us here, and visit her blog daily.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

From a recent rehearsal, Weston instructs one of our newest puppeteers Maryanne, on seahorse operation.

directions to Luna's theater

Luna's Sea is performed in the Cornerstone Playhouse, which resides in the Art Cinema of the Olde Mistick Village at 27 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT. We're located right on the south western corner of the Village. Click the map below for a larger image.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

6 weeks!

Wow! Already we've had six weeks of shows! And to think how far we've come from this tiny little dream cut out of cardboard back in February. Thanks to everyone who's helped us along the way (so many!) and our wonderful audiences! We are full of gratitude.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stingray Saturday!

Linda loves stingrays so much she's decided to make every Saturday on the blog "Stingray Saturday" by posting pictures and videos of stingrays. Here are the cow-nosed rays at the Mystic Aquarium, swimming mostly counter-clockwise as they always do. (We haven't learned why this is yet. Do you know?)

Friday, May 20, 2011

interview with Linda: connect!

Nicole's interview with Linda, continued.

What is your goal for Luna's Sea? What do you hope people come away from it saying?

"I want our audience to become completely submerged in the wonder, beauty, humor and magic we feel when we are performing it. I hope that they fall in love with these animals as puppets, and that it gives them an even deeper connection when they then see those real animals at the aquarium, and a deeper desire to protect and appreciate them. I also hope they have a lot of fun!"

What has been your biggest surprise so far working on this production?

"I am most amazed by our puppeteers, many of whom are just 15. I've been teaching puppetry for many years to all ages of students including at universities. The dedication, determination, desire to learn and enthusiasm of Luna's puppeteers outdoes anything I've ever seen. The puppetry I'm asking them to do is not easy. Our 5 hour rehearsals are physically strenuous, and take a lot of patience and experimentation. They have met every challenge we've thrown them fantastically. We are so lucky to have found them!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

strange puppets from strange lands

Here's a very different puppet: a giant chicken! Linda teaches puppet building workshops with kids all around Connecticut. These two chickens were made completely of discarded materials, and designed and built collectively with Linda by the students of Common Ground summer camp over three weeks in New Haven. With an old refrigerator box to start with, their marvelous features included feathers made individually by each camper, painted old sheets for a neck, and the ingenious googly eyes made of rotisserie chicken containers. An animal in Luna's Sea has the same eyes-- if you've seen the show you probably know which one!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Luna's cast: Kimberly Smith

Kimberly Smith (puppeteer / understudy for Luna) is 16 and a junior at Waterford High School. This is her first show with Cornerstone and she is very excited to be a part of it. She has been a part of a total of 21 other productions. Her favorite parts thus far have included Martha in A Piece of My Heart, Millie in Picnic, and Babe in The Pajama Game, and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof. She is also a part of the International Thespian Society. She would like to thank her family and voice teacher Angela Bacari for being so supportive.

"It's been fun so far. I really like the cast and we all bonded right away. The way they're making us move is teaching me a lot about my body. I'm learning a lot."

We are excited to report that Kim will be performing as Luna for the first time this Saturday, May 21st! Come see her!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

interview with Linda: junk!

(left: an Ikea umbrella about to become one of the favorite animals in the show. Can you guess which one?)

Nicole's interview with Luna creator, Linda Wingerter, continued:

Are people usually surprised by the puppets and how dynamic they are on stage?

"People are usually surprised by what puppets can be. I specialize in found object and reclaimed materials puppets. It is important to me to use materials that already exist, as there is more then enough to make a million puppet shows in all the waste we produce. In Luna's Sea you'll see discarded broken objects so completely transformed you won't recognize them for anything other then sea animals. You don't need a lot of money to buy fancy materials to make the most amazing puppets. It's all about patience, creativity, and lots of thoughtful practice for the puppeteers. We have just about every kind of puppet in the show, from little seahorses to a giant pink octopus. But for me, the bunraku type, also called "direct manipulation" puppets because you touch the puppet directly without rods or strings, get the most satisfying movement. That's why our puppeteers are also dancers, because they are visible to the audience, and their movement, even if you're not looking at them directly, informs what the audience feels about the puppet. They are giving their life energy to make the puppets come alive. It's a beautiful experience."

All kinds of things from our basements and backyards ended up in the show, and several things salvaged from neighborhood garbage cans. What do you think this old hoop skirt taped to plumbers tubing might become???

Monday, May 16, 2011

interview with Linda: collaborating

(left, Luna's directing team: Linda, Christine & Karl)

More from Nicole's interview with Linda Wingerter, Luna's writer and co-creator:

How did you know it would work best as a puppet show?

With visits to the aquarium to come up with ideas I fell in love with the animals, especially the stingrays, and was very inspired by the reactions of children seeing these animals for the first time. I watched a little boy delighted to have a sea lion chase a penny he held up to the glass. I knew I wanted to have that spirit on stage, and the only way to do it was to have puppet animals and a real child actor. As the project grew, I was lucky to find the best collaborators I could hope for, including Jen McClure, a top notch props artisan from Yale University; Christine Poland, an incredible dancer and choreographer; Karl Gasteyer, an amazing director who is great with kids; and Tashia Levy, a brilliant stage manager and consultant. All of them added so much more to the original vision. And once our puppeteers began rehearsing, Jen and I would build puppets, watch the performers figure out how to use them, see Christine's ideas of how to dance with them, and Karl's directing expertise to express the storyline, then make modifications. It's been the most productive collaborative project I've ever been involved with.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

from behind the seas

There's plenty of aerobic dance and acrobatics going on onstage, but the real dance happens backstage. With just a few feet of wing space on each side of the stage, split between three levels connected by staircases and ladders, there's not an inch to spare with 7 performers, a stage manager, and dozens of puppets, especially our giant pink octopus! Every move behind the curtain is as carefully choreographed as the dances you see on stage. Puppets have to keep moving so new puppets can be accessed. Puppeteers climb ladders to reach the octopus head and angler fish which hang from the ceiling. Little puppets have to be kept track of so they don't get lost in the mounds of fabric waves. Puppeteers have to silently navigate around each other while they rush to be in their place. Nobody rests for 40 minutes!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

interview with Linda: from the depths

Nicole asked Linda some questions about creating Luna:

Where did Luna's Sea come from?
Luna's Sea has grown out of many years of multiple projects in multiple disciplines. I'm a children's book illustrator by trade, but I'm also a puppeteer, performance artist, community performance arts organizer, and teacher. I grew up on a mountain in northern New England, but since moving to the shoreline of Connecticut 15 years ago I've been fascinated by the sea. The ocean has been a recurring theme in many of the children's books I've illustrated, entirely by accident, and I love painting water, with all its layers of currents and light. When I apprenticed as a puppet builder and puppeteer for Puppetsweat, a very dance-based puppet theater company, I had never danced before. I fell in love with it and began creating a series of short vaudeville acts called "Polly and the Moon" for a friend's performance festival in New Haven that featured the moon as a puppet character, which appeared and reappeared as a guide, teaching Polly (myself) how to dance. A whimsical version of a very autobiographical story. I've worked with Cornerstone as a designer for their grown up shows, when they asked me if I'd be interested in creating a children's show for the aquarium I immediately saw the moon again as a guiding character, since the moon is so connected to the sea, and again a young girl learning about the life around her and herself.