Triple J Unearthed High Indigenous Initiative Winner Tia Gostelow has a brand new single out called, “That’s What You Get”. The song’s music video features puppets, and Larrikin Puppets (Brett Hansen & Elissa Jenkins) performed puppetry in it! Puppets built by Scott Richards from Maxx Puppets.
Film production company: Why Not? Films.
Directors: Branden Wittchen & Luke Angelo-Roberts.
Producer: Emma Giddins.
Also starring: Ryan Hance.
Check out Tia’s single on Triple J (on rotation), Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music. See www.tiagostelow.com for news and tour dates!
Here’s the official music video for your viewing pleasure:
Support Larrikin Puppets entry into 2017 Queensland Small Business Week social media competition by liking our video
Larrikin Puppets wants to bring play to workforces with Puppets At Work, our new corporate arm. To help make this happen, please support our entry into the 2017 Queensland Small Business Week social media competition by LIKING our video entry on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The more likes and shares the post gets, the more chance we have to win a $10,000 grant to help us fund and launch the project! Competition ends on May 15, 2017.
Caboolture film maker Gabor Kukucska set himself a challenge to make 52 short documentaries in 2017. That’s one per week! These documentaries are about inspirational people. And one of these people is Queensland puppeteer Brett Hansen – founder of Larrikin Puppets.
From childhood bullying and awful workplaces to personal difficulties like unemployment and the end of his first marriage, this 13 minute film tells the whole story. Strong encouragement from his loving family helped shape Brett’s life, and eventually he met the love of his life Elissa Jenkins, whose support has meant the world to Brett in the continuing growth of Larrikin Puppets.
The film also talks about the types of bookings Larrikin Puppets receive, including puppet shows and puppetry workshops. We learn about the Small Business Development Conference in Melbourne, and Brett’s advanced training in the USA with puppeteers from The Muppets and Sesame Street.
This is the teaser trailer that was shown in the lead up to the film’s official release:
The full 13 minute film is available to see now for free at https://inspireflix.com/docos/the-puppeteer/ by creating a free (and quick) login or signing in with Facebook. The login gate is because film festivals don’t accept films with full public access on YouTube or other such video sharing sites. We would love to see this film accepted and screened at festivals around the world. But we would also love you to login and see the film here and now at the InspireFlix website (formerly My Doco Club).
Monitor puppetry is the style of puppetry developed by Jim Henson for performance on film and television productions. Unlike traditional live performance puppetry, the puppeteers don’t look at their puppets. They perform their characters up high above their heads, and watch their puppetry in a TV monitor. This enables the puppeteer to see if the puppet has good eye focus, good lip sync, and is able to walk correctly into a frame, and perform many tasks within that frame without looking stupid.
This is why the puppetry on The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and all associated TV shows and movies look so good on screen. It’s because the puppeteers are able to see exactly how their puppets will look to the viewer at home. This is a perk that most actors don’t get to enjoy. A human actor must perform their scenes without ever looking at themselves on any monitor. Whereas puppeteers are blind on set if they have to crouch and hide behind tables and props without being able to see what they’re doing. The puppet is the star, and so the puppet (like human actors) still performs its scenes as normal. But the hidden puppeteer is the one controlling the puppet. So the puppeteer is allowed to watch their puppets on the TV monitor to make sure the movements are perfect. It wouldn’t be fair to expect the puppeteer to perform blind.
Monitor puppetry is a great way for puppeteers to practice their movements. From subtle facial emotions to wild arm movements, watching your puppetry skills on a monitor is a very good way to practice and improve.
Brett Hansen at Larrikin Puppets has been practicing and perfecting his puppetry skills since the age of three, and has taught many workshops in theatre, film and schools on the basic movements of Muppet-style puppetry. He even produced a live monitor puppetry improv show, where audiences could watch the cast of puppeteers at work, while also being able to watch a large screen displaying only the puppets being performed into the camera. This was a live example of how the puppeteers see their puppetry on the monitor, and then that performance is broadcast/displayed onto the screen for the audience to see.
But as there has never been any formal training in monitor puppetry in Australia, Brett’s only training has been both at The Puppet Kitchen in New York City (under Sesame Street’s Michael Schupbach), and at the advanced, intensive ‘Beyond the Sock’ puppetry workshop at the University of North Texas (under The Muppets and Sesame Street’s Marty Robinson and Noel MacNeal).
Brett now provides this kind of training through Larrikin Puppets for specially arranged class bookings.
Brett’s wife and business partner Elissa Jenkins also received some training at The Puppet Kitchen in New York, and this was her first training. She has since continued to practice her skills and has also started joining Brett as a secondary puppeteer at some of the larger events (such as Woodford Folk Festival and Paradise Resort Gold Coast).
So here now is a hilarious outtake video where Brett (as Troggg) and Elissa (as Flossy) are practicing some monitor puppetry, and working on the challenges that arise, such as trying to avoid heads and arms appearing in shot. Lots of laughs during this quite challenging activity. It’s certainly not as easy as it looks. But it’s definitely as fun as it looks!
Towards the end of our stay in New York, Elissa and I decided to base ourselves on Bribie Island upon our return to Australia. I wrote a post on a Bribie Island community Facebook page about our decision, and was approached via that page by a journalist in The Bribie Islander who was interested in writing a story about Larrikin Puppets and the puppet adventures we had in the USA. This is the article that was printed in the September 2016 edition of The Bribie Islander – Issue 26. Click on the article below to zoom in and read it:
Working as a journalist for a community paper has proven to be a wide and varied creative experience! It’s rare to have an interview with a puppeteer! Rare and magical, it immediately brings out the child in you! Brett Hansen gave us a demonstration of his incredible gifts as we watched in awe and fascination! Brett has just returned to the island from New York and was gracious enough to share his experiences with us.
Brett attended the ‘Beyond the Sock Workshop’ featuring puppetry teachers: Marty Robinson (a Jim Henson puppeteer famous for performing Telly Monster and Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street), Pasha Romanowski (puppet builder who made the characters on popular New Zealand show, The Moe Show), and Noel MacNeal (a Jim Henson puppeteer famous for performing the lead character on Bear in the Big Blue House). He held a solo puppet show at the Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn – an annual festival in New York celebrating all kinds of puppetry. “I had a really big crowd on the day”. His main character Troggg (that’s Troggg with three Gs, the middle G is silent) – is pictured here posing with New York puppet troupe ‘Team Lopez’. “We attended so many night time puppet shows for adults and the theatres were packed! It’s part of the culture over there that puppets are not just for children. Grown adults flock to see these shows”. Team Lopez performs ‘improv’ comedy (known in Australia as ‘impro’ or ‘theatresports’). While we were based in New York for most of the three months, we did spend a week in Los Angeles and a week in Texas. The Beyond the Sock workshop was held at the University of North Texas. And in Los Angeles, I spent some time with some Jim Henson puppeteers over there – Grant Baciocco and Russ Walko.
Brett’s business Larrikin Puppets is available for bookings locally. He is available to perform puppet shows for birthday parties, childcare centres, libraries, fetes and festivals, seniors clubs and nursing homes, and primary and high schools. Schools are also able to book him for Puppetry Workshops. He is also available to perform as a Puppet M.C. for wedding receptions, film festivals, product launches, talent nights, gala dinners and media launches. So if you want your event to stand out from the crowd, you can contact Brett for bookings.
Article by Kellyanne O’Hare in The Bribie Islander. Issue 26, September 2016.
In June 2016, I was a student of the intensive puppetry workshop called “Beyond the Sock” at the University of North Texas. There, we were taught many of the advanced monitor puppetry techniques used on professional film and TV productions such as Sesame Street, The Muppets and Fraggle Rock.
We also learned how to construct our own puppets using a professional pattern for a chicken puppet. Our teachers were high profile Henson puppeteers Marty Robinson (The Jim Henson Company, Sesame Street; performer of Telly Monster and Mr. Snuffleupagus) and Noel MacNeal (Sesame Street, Bear in the Big Blue House; performer of Bear) for the puppetry performance lessons, with puppet construction training from master puppet builder Pasha Romanowski (Project Puppet, The Moe Show). Marty Robinson has been a Henson puppeteer since 1981, and has trained most of the puppeteers of The Muppets and Sesame Street since the early 1990s. He also trains puppeteers for international co-productions of Sesame Street. So it was very special to be able to train under Marty, Noel and Pasha. Who better than the top masters of this craft to receive some very valuable, professional training?
Here are a few photos from this inspiring week!
I took the Beyond the Sock course as part of my three months of professional development in the USA, which included some informal training and rehearsing at The Puppet Kitchen in New York, as well as meeting and performing with American puppeteers of all levels around New York, Los Angeles, and Denton, Texas.
And now have a look at these lovely short videos showcasing the five days of Beyond the Sock 2016. It was a great adventure and well worth the trip if you’re interested in taking part. These videos will surely inspire anyone interested in pursuing professional puppetry to enrol in future Beyond the Sock workshops. It is the highlight of my puppetry career so far, and an experience I will never forget.
For three days in a row, Troggg, Brett and Elissa immersed themselves in New York’s puppet culture. In NYC puppets are all the rage! From professional film and TV puppeteers to small businesses to hobbyists – everybody loves puppets!
On Friday night, (20 May, 2016) we went to see “Team Lopez” – a puppet improv troupe – at Broadway Comedy Club in the theater district. They were part of a big night of improv comedy called “Pre Game Happy Hour Improv Comedy”. After the show, Troggg got a photo with the puppets, then we all went out for drinks.
On Saturday morning (21 May, 2016) we attended “Morning with The Muppets” as part of the Vulture Festival at Milk Studios in Chelsea. We got to see a panel discussion starring Muppet performers Steve Whitmire (Kermit, Ernie, Wembley Fraggle, Rizzo, etc), Eric Jacobson (Fozzie, Piggy, Bert, Grover) and Peter Linz (Walter from the recent Muppets films), and of course the superstars themselves Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear and Animal.
Brett asked a question of Steve Whitmire during the Q&A session about the difference in atmosphere between working with the original team of puppeteers (Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, etc) and the team of the last 25 years (incl. Matt Vogel, David Rudman, Peter Linz, Eric Jacobson, etc). He gave an amazing, heartfelt answer reflecting on the magic of being surrounded by those amazing people in the early days.
Afterwards, Steve had a quick little examination of Troggg, and mentioned that they will be visiting Australia in a few months! He was whisked away before we could find out where and why. Maybe a Supanova or Oz Comic Con?
Brett and Troggg also got to meet a few fellow puppeteers and Muppet enthusiasts, including Zach Woliner (with Wally Wackiman) and Sam (with Mo Monster from web series The Mo Show).
On Sunday (22 May, 2016) we went to Kaufman Astoria Studios, where Sesame Street is filmed! Yes – Troggg found his way to Sesame Street! Sadly the Sesame Street Muppets are all on Summer vacation. But the studio lot was open for a street fair. So Troggg spent time entertaining the families and posing for photos.
Next door to the Kaufman Astoria Studio is the Museum of the Moving Image, where Craig Shemin (President of the Jim Henson Legacy) and Karen Falk (the Head Archivist of the Jim Henson Company) hosted a special compilation screening of some old and rare films by Jim Henson from the 1950s and 60s that had been restored. The event was called, “Henson in High Definition: The Early Years”. Troggg of course attended and met some new friends. While we waited for the presentation to start, a small crew from a New York marketing company asked if Troggg could appear in a quick video for them.
After the screening, Brett and Troggg met up with John Papovitch and Milo J. Monster-Smith in the foyer. Many people posed for photos with the two monsters. Brett also spoke briefly with another Henson puppeteer, Noel MacNeal, who will be one of his teachers at the upcoming ‘Beyond the Sock’ puppetry workshop in Texas. Noel is most famous for performing Bear in “Bear in the Big Blue House”.
A great weekend of puppets and Muppet fun in New York City!
May 16, 2016 – 26 years since Jim Henson (creator of characters from The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and more) tragically passed away at the age of 53. His memorial service was held here at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, New York City.
Our very own Troggg decided to visit the church and pay his respects to Jim Henson. After all, he is a major influence on Larrikin Puppets. Brett and Elissa came along too, and were very much in awe of the spectacular gothic style buildings.
See Troggg’s video tribute below:
Many of Troggg’s Muppet heroes sung at this glorious old church at that Jim Henson Memorial Service – Scooter, Wembley Fraggle, Gobo Fraggle, Oscar the Grouch, Fozzie Bear, Big Bird, Gonzo, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, everyone! So even though Troggg is 26 years late to the memorial, he’s very glad to be following in those legendary footsteps with his little talk and song here today.
Have a look at this moving footage of all of Jim’s puppeteer friends (with all of their Muppets) at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine performing an epic rendition of “Just One Person” at his memorial service. Music by Larry Grossman. Lyrics by Hal Hackady:
Here are some more photos of Troggg exploring this grand old cathedral:
In loving memory of the great Jim Henson. It was a lovely landmark to see. We’ll be taking a look at some more Muppet-related locations, visiting some conventions, workshops and meeting some more puppeteers as well. So stay tuned.
For more photos of Larrikin Puppets in the USA, please have a look at the ever growing album of images on our Facebook page. Click ‘Like’ while you’re there!
We’ll leave you with another video from the memorial service at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in 1990. It’s Big Bird singing, “Being Green”. We miss you, Jim!
Only 24 hours after landing in New York, it was time for Brett, Elissa, Troggg and Frazzamatazz to visit ‘The Puppet Kitchen‘ in Manhattan! They’re a puppet construction workshop, as well as a training facility in the art of Henson-style TV puppetry using cameras and monitors. It was ‘Monitor Night’ on Tuesday. So Troggg and Frazzamatazz got to jam alongside various other visiting and in-house puppet characters. The instructor was Michael Shupbach (Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, Johnny and The Sprites, Little Shop of Horrors, Avenue Q puppet construction) who was very informative and fun! He’s one of the co-founders of The Puppet Kitchen.
Lots of other New York-based puppeteers and puppetry enthusiasts were part of the session too, including Erin Finnegan, Arlee Chadwick, Gillian “Gus” Andrews, Ivy Cohen, Bobby Dagger and his son Jude. All an absolute delight to practice and perform with! We felt very warm and welcome in the company of these amazing like-minded people.
The New York adventures don’t stop there either. Lots more networking, some puppet shows at the Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn, a trip to Hollywood and a week in North Texas for the ‘Beyond the Sock’ Puppetry Workshop with Muppeteers Peter Linz and Noel MacNeal. There’s even been some talk of me performing some puppetry in an upcoming film project here in New York too, so hopefully we have some more developments on that in the near future.
Brett Hansen Puppeteer Showreel – 2 Min, 45 Sec Version. This shorter version features clips from puppet shows, Vox Poppin’, Juiced TV, Cluck! The Web Series, Heart of a Thousand Souls, 5 for 35, Avenue Q, Thank Troggg You’re Here, The Hobble & Snitch Show, Murra Murra and The Late Nite Show.
Brett Hansen Puppeteer Showreel – 4 Minute Version. Features clips from puppet shows, Juiced TV, Cluck! The Web Series, Heart of a Thousand Souls, 5 for 35, Avenue Q, The Hobble & Snitch Show, Sam The Ham, Murra Murra, The Late Nite Show, Thank Troggg You’re Here, and Vox Poppin’.
Brett Hansen is the principal puppeteer at Larrikin Puppets, and won the 2015 BizCover NEIS Change Award at the Small Business Development Conference in Melbourne for his work forming and growing the company over its first three years.
Brett’s weekly puppetry work consists mostly of live performances at childcare centres, schools, libraries, festivals and birthday parties around South-East Queensland. He also runs beginner puppetry workshops at schools. Brett spent a week in residence at Belmont State School teaching each child from prep to year 6 the art of storytelling through puppetry as part of the 2016 Belmont Literary Carnivale.
In 2016, Brett spent three months in the USA for professional development where he networked, trained and performed with puppeteers in New York City, Los Angeles and Texas. He received formal puppetry training at the Beyond The Sock advanced puppetry workshop at the University of North Texas under Marty Robinson (The Jim Henson Company, Sesame Street) and Noel MacNeal (Sesame Street, Bear in the Big Blue House), with puppet construction training from Pasha Romanowski (Project Puppet, The Moe Show). Brett also trained at The Puppet Kitchen in Manhattan, New York under Michael Schupbach (Sesame Street, The Jim Henson Company), performed in New York City at the Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn.
Brett Hansen with Marty Robinson, Pasha Romanowski, and Noel MacNeal.
In theatre, Brett was puppetry trainer for the casts of both the 2012 and 2014 Brisbane Arts Theatre productions of Broadway musical, ‘Avenue Q‘. Brett was also a puppeteer cast member in the 2012 production, co-performing the characters of Nicky and Trekkie Monster. Brett’s own improv theatre show ‘Thank Troggg You’re Here: A Puppet Impro Spectacular!’ debuted at the 2014 Anywhere Theatre Festival and has been performed several times to large audiences.
Brett also performed the puppetry for Studio Theatre & Cafe’s Saturday morning kids’ stage show, ‘The Super Weekend Show’.
In film, Brett performed the puppet characters in Richard Bell’s ‘5 for 35’, which screened at the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) at GOMA (Queensland’s Gallery Of Modern Art) in 2015-2016. He also assisted with the puppetry in ‘Cluck: The Web Series’, puppeteered Troggg in the short film ‘Heart of a Thousand Souls’, and puppeteered two characters in the short film ‘Kev’. On TV, Brett has performed puppetry on ‘The Late Nite Show’ and ‘Showreel’ (both at Channel 31) and hosted (as Troggg) an episode of ‘Juiced TV’, a children’s programme created in partnership with the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Some of this work can be seen in both the short and long versions of Brett’s puppeteer showreel.