"That's the way to do it!"

It has been an action packed summer for Jesse Mooney-Bullock Puppets. In between our fantastic tour of Luigi Bullooney's Circus Menagerie performances in Michigan and Cincinnati, we have been building puppets at a break neck pace. We expanded the crew to include three puppet making assistants (Seana Higgins, Michael Brandt and Hallie Grant), and a costume maker (Emily Hammerberg), to help build puppets for two Chicago shows. I'll tell you about the first today.

A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch is a world premiere play by Kara Davidson, directed by Shade Murray at The House Theatre of Chicago. The show opened over Labor Day and runs through October 24. I am always excited to work with House Theatre as they embrace creative visual storytelling for all of their productions. It has been especially rewarding to design such a central element to this brand new work and see the actors make the puppets and masks come alive. Check out some images and video of the finished puppets then keep scrolling to see some shots of the works in process.

Judy, Punch, Joey, the Constable and Pretty Polly hanging out before rehearsals.

Judy, Punch, Joey, the Constable and Pretty Polly hanging out before rehearsals.

Charlotte, a young orphan, has made a life for herself thieving on the streets of London. She wiggles her way into employment for an eccentric Italian puppeteer, Pietro, collecting coins from his crowds and watching out for the law. They quickly become an efficient pair under Pietro’s gruff and focused attention. As their partnership flourishes, so does Charlotte’s vivid imagination. Soon, the violent Punch and Judy puppets jump to life as she conjures up her own spins on the classic tales. But Pietro may not want his protégé pulling the strings.
— House Theatre

Here are a few images capturing the team creating the hand puppet and mask versions of the classic Punch characters. The process was typically that Jesse would carve the hand puppet head and then hand it off to an assistant to sculpt a form for the mask representing that character. The form was then papier mached, painted and rigged to create a functioning character mask. The puppet costumes were designed by Izumi Inaba, the play's costume designer, then recreated in miniature by Emily Hammerberg. Click on the photo to advance to the next image.