Inquiries into the early years of SJI

Sunday, December 7, 2014

More on Blair Thomas, puppeteer

Puppeteer Blair Thomas in front of his
stage. (Image captured from Vimeo.)
A year ago I wrote two posts about puppeteer Blair Thomas who, among many ambitious undertakings (such as an adaptation of Moby Dick), has developed a St. James Infirmary puppet show. You can find my original postings here, including one in which Thomas explains his approach to the SJI show.

Yesterday I stumbled upon a video on Vimeo. It is almost half-an-hour long, and documents an entire SJI performance.

Blair Thomas, in white-face, is in front of the stage playing multiple instruments (and, I think, creating sound loops that play on while he attends to the puppet characters), carrying a coffin on his back, flying the unfortunate woman up to heaven. And, of course, he is also behind the stage, pulling the strings that animate the characters in front of a rolling backdrop.

It is a complicated choreography, and a most engaging performance. It makes me aware of how much puppetry has changed since, as a small lad in Belfast, I watched "Punch and Judy" in the park. (Here, in this SJI performance, Thomas references early puppetry techniques. In other works his approach can be very different.)

This is really interesting!  You can watch the video here: Vimeo - Blair Thomas and St. James Infirmary.