Jonty chatted with producer, Hannah Clarke, about Puppet Fiction.
Tarantino and puppets. An obvious combination... How did the idea come about?
Jon Coddington is the mastermind, he came up with the idea to make a puppet version of Pulp Fiction in 2011 and I had a brainwave in the middle of one night about how that could be possible. We pitched it to BATS Theatre for a Fringe season in 2012, called on our good friends James and Anya to be in our "little puppet show, it's just for a couple of nights"; 250 shows later and we're still going.
When did you first see Pulp Fiction? What did you think?
I saw Pulp Fiction at the State Cinema in Napier when it first came out in the 90s, I lied about my age to get in. The fact that I can still remember exactly when and where is testament to the brilliance of this film. I think it set new standards and broke several filmmaking moulds and traditions. I mean, its imagery is iconic and some of its catchphrases are part of our everyday language now (although probably in our casts more than mosts). I love it but Jon is the really committed fan. He's seen it at least once a year every year since it came out, so that's what... at least 25 times?
Why bring the show back four years on?
We haven't actually stopped performing we just haven't made it back to Auckland since 2013. We laugh about how it's a show that just won't die because every time we think we've retired it someone asks us to do another season. It's changed a lot over the last four or five years, there's a lot of improvising and we've changed it to make it personal for each location and venue so anyone who saw it in 2013 will have seen a different show.
The puppets are great, how long did they take to make?
Jon is seriously talented, he designed and sculpted every puppet and prop in the show by hand. It originally took weeks and weeks to get it all together. We all pitched in and spent many hours in his studio. If you look closely you'll see lots of unexpected detail and the occasional reference to other Tarantino classics.
Any favourite moments from developing / rehearsing the show?
I've seen this show more times than anyone else and every single time the cast will do something that surprises me. They are all just so funny and talented, I leave every show with an aching face from smiling. Jon is always adding little details, James is always throwing in super contemporary references and bringing the audience on that journey, and Anya, Anya is sneaky, she's always got something up her sleeve. It's just a delight to watch the three of them interacting through the puppets. I guess we're like a weird little family these days and you can see those relationships on stage.
It took about 10 takes and some ingenuity to film the puppet shoot up sequence, I'm pretty proud we nailed that. And then there was that time we added dinosaurs in the middle of the show...
Puppet Fiction is on at The Basement 11 - 15 Jul. Find our more and book tickets here.