Coyote Girl Sneak Peek!

We’re very excited to announce that we are now on the way to getting Coyote Girl out into the world. Sims and Biggs are hard at work completing the Withoutabox application for submission to a handful of  national and international film festivals this upcoming year. Meanwhile, Rick and Biggs peruse the film on the big screen for any final edits or adjustments. For your viewing pleasure, here is another gorgeous still from our short film. I think it might be my favorite:

"This isn't what I expected to be doing"  Still from the short film "Coyote Girl" feat. Robert Biggs
“This isn’t what I expected to be doing”
Still from the short film “Coyote Girl” feat. Robert Biggs

Coyote Girl Sneak Peek!

Last week, after a month of hard work in the cutting room, Rick, Biggs and Sims sent me the unmastered final cut! Wow. It looks gorgeous! I don’t want to give away too much, but we are all very proud and happy. While Coyote Girl ‘s soundtrack and final bits of mastering get wrapped up over these next few weeks I thought it might be fun to share some of the stunning stills I pulled from the cut of the film I received.

Here’s a great sneak peek for y’all:

"A series of Fathers and Mothers in no particular order."
“A series of Fathers and Mothers in no particular order.”

On Location for Coyote Girl: Thursday 01.15.15.

January has been an amazing month for Outcast Café! We have spent the past two and a half weeks officially entering the production phase of making our second short film, Coyote Girl, the poetic version of the 90 minute play script Riley Ann Visits the Outcast Cafe. After spending about two weeks on location in Westfield, Illinois the team has dispersed and continues to work on post-production for the film as well as upcoming projects for the company. Here is the next installment of our adventures on location from the perspective of company member Gail Shalan (Riley Ann, Coyote):

Thursday 01.15.15

9:03 a.m.- Despite the promise of an early morning again today, the weather forbids our last effort to capture the drone shot in scene 7. Rick is awesome and emails me the night before, so I get a couple extra hours before our final day of shooting begins. Some sun salutations and serious journaling are in order.

11:13 a.m.- With the morning off and no plans to get going until after lunch, Biggs takes the opportunity to give me a further glimpse at the geography which makes up the history of our little tale. We plow through muddy roads that cut across fields and fields of ghosted corn. It’s sunny and warmer than it has been. Golden light floods the truck. In the usual fashion, each time we pass a certain piece of acreage, I get a detailed backstory of how the land came into, or passed from, Biggs’ possession. We go all the way to the far corners of the South Place, opposite on the property from David’s house, loop around through the land that lays so low it floods most of the year. We actually drive straight over a semi-frozen river and onto a special plot of land preserved by the government as a graveyard and conservation landmark. Here I hear the charming account of the time my dearest childhood friend, Robert and Deborah’s daughter Emma, was brought here in her youth and asked in wonder:”So… do we own dead people?”… perhaps, in a way. And on a more serious note, it’s the spirits evoked by this tour of the Biggs Farm, those who’s remains are buried in the graveyard, or the native people’s who may be in the fields, as well as the stories those who’ve moved on have left behind, which bring a reverence to the last day of my participation in this particular iteration of our tale of life and death. I’m glad to bid farewell to this understated character of our story. The magic of filming “on location” is not to be belittled on a project like this. It’s a memorable morning for sure.

2:34 p.m.- We meet the others at the smokehouse again for lunch and somewhat tragic news. This morning, while attempting to capture a drone shot for scene 3 in which the drone flies perilously close to the side of the house, an self-inflicted draft caused a crash landing. Being rather new technology, and quite expensive, the machine has had it’s run on the shoot and must be shipped out to Japan (I believe) to undergo repair. We toast to the drone, enjoy our last proper pulled pork, discuss travel to the airport tomorrow and head back to the Home Place to begin our final work day.

4:06 p.m.- First scene of the day features only the Old Man, so I settle up in the “green room” with my moving playlist I’ve made titled “Coyote Girl” and relax into the zone of Riley Ann’s final stretch. The goal for me, is to keep the energy level and focus clear until we begin scene 15 around 6 p.m.

6:30 p.m.- Scene 15 is gorgeous. I love working on this. It’s all close-ups. I feel like I’m finally understanding what part of me is framed in what shot and how to make the slight adjustments which give me control over my performance without damaging the organic experience of the moment. Day 4 is off to a good start. We capture several different options to chose from in post and Rick seems quite happy with the results of my work, which feels very validating, knowing he’ll be making those final cuts.

8:48 p.m. – Time to film the death scene… duh, duh, duh. While there is a bit of extensive choreography, the first few takes of the master go very well. When we sit down to watch them played back for a lighting or sound adjustment, however, we notice a major problem: The issue with what started as a play and has been made into a film (and this is not the first time we’ve worked our way through this challenge) is that sometimes simple, physical choices that work for the stage without a doubt, we just can’t get away with on film. In the continuous shot, from the Old Man’s last breath through Riley Ann’s long farewell, it is very challenging for Biggs to hold his breath, especially with the irregular nature of the “dying breath”… and it’s entirely impossible to mask the blinking of his lids, as the necessary lighting shines right into his eyes. We spend a lot of time trouble shooting this problem, and eventually, I believe we come up with a combination of distorted light and cutting the shot.

11:39 p.m.- While, technically, the former scene took a while to capture, the good streak of artistic work continued. I’m feeling confident, and yet, remaining in a very heightened emotional state for the character. Or rather, flowing in and out of it repeatedly, attempting to preserve energy, but not being able to hang onto much. I figure we’re good, though. When we rehearsed the scene last week, we ran the entire screenplay through, or as much as possible. This, in turn, created the pattern that Riley Ann gets up from her dead father’s body and takes her Coyote boy to the window with her, staring out into the abyss in what, at the time, was fairly extensive and very fresh sorrow and loss. Knowing I needed to be in such a tender state, I revved myself up and remained incredibly emotional throughout the process of our first several takes. But something wasn’t working. The shot was coming off as incredibly theatrical. It felt too heavy.  It just wasn’t right. Biggs came in and out of the door, trying to give me sensitive and delicate directional nudges, but it wasn’t fixing the problem. Not sure if it was the bright lights and entire crew staring at me and my puppet in a somewhat unrehearsed moment that made me feel like I was failing, or the fact that I’d made Riley Ann completely frenetic and out of sorts, but I just wasn’t moving in the right direction for what the scene needed. I found myself confused, frustrated, feeling unprofessional and like I was wasting everyone’s time…. It was 1 a.m. on our last day of shooting, which thus far had been a roaring success for me, and I couldn’t get my shit together.
After a mini conference with my directors, Biggs and Rick, which yielded some useful conversation about what we determined earlier that week; what remained useful, and what we should scrap; and some other options to try, I took some very, very deep breaths and we began again. It’s quite possible that the scene had morphed, that the story had taken a turn none of us had foreseen, that Riley Ann actually had earned to come out the other side of her struggle and into the unknown. Beneath the dense wave of embarrassing emotion, and the thick wall of struggling communication, we had some how excavated a beautiful, truthful, and completely surprising final moment for our film and for our shoot. It was the epitome of the gigantic learning curve this entire process had been.


Wednesday, February 11th, 11:41 p.m.

I’m not sure I’m conveying the moment in an articulate manner, but when I woke up in the morning, with a few hours of deep sleep and a promising plane ride home to my beloved, I felt utterly proud, excited, and revelatory of a new chapter of my own work as an actor, as well as a large accomplishment for the company. Now, I move on to new projects, and tell you readers about fond memories, while our talented team puts together a gorgeous, potent, relevant short film called “Coyote Girl”.


Thank you for reading our log of the on location film shoot last month. If you would like to keep up to date on Coyote Girl‘s process, please check in with this blog frequently and follow us on twitter and instagram: @outcastcafe




An encouraging and humbling message from my cup of tea on our last day of shooting…
Sweaty, shadowy, death scene make-up on Riley Ann (played by Gail Shalan)
“Hold my hand… it gives a soft place for the hurt.” Filming Scene 15 feat. Andy Turrett, Robert Biggs, and Gail Shalan
Producer’s view of the final scene feat. fearless director Robert Biggs and brave DP Rick Sands
Goodbye, Illinois! a view from my plane back to Boston.




On Location for Coyote Girl: Wednesday 01.14.15

January has been an amazing month for Outcast Café! We have spent the past two and a half weeks officially entering the production phase of making our second short film, Coyote Girl, the poetic version of the 90 minute play script Riley Ann Visits the Outcast Cafe. After spending about two weeks on location in Westfield, Illinois the team has dispersed and continues to work on post-production for the film as well as upcoming projects for the company. Here is the next installment of our adventures on location from the perspective of company member Gail Shalan (Riley Ann, Coyote)

Wednesday 01.14.15

6:55 a.m.– SURPRISE!!! My phone rings a wake-up call just before 7. Good thing my ringer was turned on nice and loud! I’m a pretty heavy sleeper and am still adjusting to these country hours of up and down with the sun. Expecting to not go in to shoot until a bit before noon, I’d set my alarms in a relaxed fashion. But so goes life on a film shoot! The lighting is perfect! The wind is dead! We gotta get this drone shoot now, baby, or it ain’t gonna happen! Adrenaline surges and I hop on out of bed, looking very much forward to the coffee promised at the Home Place.

8:25 a.m.- Turns out that farm air is more fickle than we thought. The conditions aren’t conducive, so we post-pone the drone shot of Riley Ann driving up the road until a later time and decide to scrap the exterior shot of scene 7 that Rick had mapped out and forgotten to get during the long day of shooting yesterday. The guys still have plenty to capture, and to be honest, I don’t mind at all. It’s a real joy being on set, witnessing the commotion and the artistry at hand. Establishing shots and tid-bits are taken care of. In a couple hours we will start work on scene 13, the second Coyote talking scene. I can go ahead and get out of Scene 7 make-up and costume and into our look for scene 13, involving much more weariness, a pair of sweatpants, and a jacket.

10:56 a.m.-  Diving right into scene 13, we attempt to figure out how to get a continuous master shot and again run into problems with getting the puppet on and in place in enough time, especially in the tighter corners that we have with this frame. We split the scene in two: A section of Riley Ann carrying a waste bin (…filled with waste) out and in the back door while the Old Man sits as witness to the chaos, and a section of Coyote’s pure frustration, revealing Riley Ann, and ultimately Riley Ann and the Coyote bidding the Old Man farewell.

1:46 p.m.- While I certainly struggle with comprehending the logistics of my shadow in the shots on Biggs during the first half, the rest of the scene is pretty seamless. It’s a bit of an emotional blur, as I attempt to maintain, or go in and out of, the state where Riley Ann has to be to start this fury. But I practice Terry’s advice of staying present only when I need to be as Gail, and protecting my mind, space, senses from the buzz around me inbetween takes.  We’ve done a lot of work to get to this place, and the story begins to carry itself just about here. At least for me and Coyote. It’s challenging for Biggs to play this tender moment against Coyote who at times simply cannot make eye contact (even if I could tell where he was looking from below the table) because of the frame needed on the back of Coyote’s head. But the work remains ever poignant and beautiful, and Coyote feels very triumphant with his performance, as well as the new skills he’s picked up on camera.We wrap the scene in good time.

3:15 p.m.-  Now’s our golden moment to capture the driving shot. With our last few hours of strong daylight, the gents head out to the field with drone in tow while I get costumed quickly for the first Riley Ann look. With a 21st century walkie-talkie system (iPhones), Sims crouches in the back of the Pick-Up while I master reversing down a semi-frozen dirt road in heels. After about the 8th take, I’m about ready to sign up as a stunt woman for the next Fast & Furious flick. Okay, not really, but it’s a lot of back and forth on about a quarter-mile of turf, I get pretty comfortable. Finally, we get a shot or two that seem useable and get cut for dinner.

6:03 p.m.-  Biggs skips the meal as he needs the hour or so we have to apply full body make-up for scene 10 in which the Old Man is caught dreaming, singing, and dancing naked under  the full moon (insert full moon pun here). When we get back I settle into my coziest costume, a set of hideous teacup p.j.’s. and lie down on a couch while Josh assembles the most gorgeous artificial moonlight through a lace curtain that I’ve ever experienced. Once settled in and rehearsed, as this scene takes a bit of combat choreography, we begin shooting the incredibly violent and upsetting piece. This scene is TRULY Coyote’s first appearance in the film, and it’s easy to feel how necessary a device the puppet/character is to our emotional little tale. While there are barely any words, very brief action, and a peaceful beginning and end to this moment in the story, it’s emotionally the most wrenching for me, Gail, on this journey. I don’t want to spoil too much, but in scene 10  the essence of the deterioration and redefinition of Father and Daughter is apparent in an instant, as is the necessity of the puppet device for both characters involved. If I were to pick one scene to sum up the story, I think it would be scene 10.

8:55 p.m.- Our second shadows-on-the-building shot has been scrapped. Rick feels he has enough from yesterday to make the piece work, and we have priorities to complete. Our final bit of filming for today is to get some footage of Coyote in front of a black screen called “Elements” footage which Rick will later lay on top of a shot or two that looks out the window. This will create an effect of Coyote staring into the window from outside. I quickly sew up the poor guy’s crooked mouth for his closeup while the guys set up the next shot.

9:28 p.m.- Blindly led through the most avant-garde element of this entire process, Coyote and I show off his tricks to Rick in front of the screen. By which I mean Rick quickly figures out a directing technique of guiding Coyote’s gaze in a rhythm and various directions to get the image he seeks. It’s pretty weird, wacky, cool stuff. Coyote rocks it, per usual.

10:03 p.m.- The day is a wrap! Wahoo! Final day of shooting is tomorrow. Early shot is planned at 7 a.m. so it’s off to bed I go.

What actually happened at 8 in the morning.
What actually happened at 8 in the morning. Feat. Robert Biggs as the Old Man
Josh and Rick set up scene 13.
Josh and Rick set up scene 13.
In the Zone to shoot scene 13
In the Zone to shoot scene 13
Cheeky Coyote Boy
Cheeky Coyote Boy


On Location for Coyote Girl: Tuesday 01.13.15

January has been an amazing month for Outcast Café! We have spent the past two and a half weeks officially entering the production phase of making our second short film, Coyote Girl, the poetic version of the 90 minute play script Riley Ann Visits the Outcast Cafe. After spending about two weeks on location in Westfield, Illinois the team has dispersed and continues to work on post-production for the film as well as upcoming projects for the company. Here is the next installment of our adventures on location from the perspective of company member Gail Shalan (Riley Ann, Coyote:

Tuesday 01.13.15

9:10 a.m.- I arrive on set this morning at a much more attainable hour for the likes of me: caffeinated, well-rested, and ready to go. Make-up application starts for Scene 7. This is the scene we rehearsed on camera in Lee, MA several weeks ago. Some adjustments have been discussed, but over all, this feels like pretty familiar territory. With a day of shooting under our belts and the rehearsal previously mentioned, I’m feeling fairly confident about approaching this scene.  We’ll see how Rick thinks we do once we get down to the living room..

10:18 p.m.- Filming Scene 7 feels like a serious pay-off. To see how our communication and my understanding of the camera has grown in the past few weeks makes me proud and I don’t feel like a total ignorant actor. Although it takes us all morning to nail what we are going for, especially with most of our shots partially lit naturally and a changing sun, I begin to harness a bit of control in my work by recognizing that I have power and control over what is seen in the camera. Sure, the beauty of film is that the camera will pick up everything running through the actor, and there is little “doing” required, but the choice of slight angle and moment-to-moment reactions are, in fact, mine, and the camera will pick up all of those nuances as well. They all matter! Like a painter who is learning how to sketch with pen, the finesse of the instrument is something I am certainly a novice in, but the observation of how they are different has been made clear to me.

1:12 p.m. – So watching rushes after wrapping a scene is always a good idea, and with such a tight filming schedule, we are learning the importance of fitting in the practice more and more. I never thought I’d be one to watch my own dailies, finding too much “watching” of myself to be one of my traps as an actor, but I’m again surprised by the change of medium. It actually is very helpful to see how my action comes across in a shot, sometimes it’s quite different than perceived. Seeing a shot played back also can give me more confidence in my work on film (which I feel I am lacking in spades), and really helps Biggs  to communicate with me clear direction for film. It’s a whopping challenge to act and direct in your own film in the first place, but navigating how to translate what you want to see to a seasoned camera crew and to yourself and your fellow stage actor must be a real doozy! So now, although we have the utmost trust in Rick, we try to watch back as much as we can.

Another benefit to the practice is to realize we may not have gotten all the shots in the way they need to be, and so it goes with Scene 5 from yesterday. Rick is missing consistency in the master from the day before, so we will shoot it again before lunch. It takes a little time for me (and quite a bit for Biggs who is aging and un-aging himself) to rewind our make-up and get back in costume. Once we are ready to go, we wrap up the shot rather quickly and head to Terri and David’s for another catered lunch from Richard’s Farms .

3:30 p.m.-  Back to the Home Place to capture our shadow sequences as quickly as possible before the sun goes completely down. Although we have significant artificial light as a spot on the house, the ambient light of dusk is essential to our mysterious coyote exterior shots, something we’ve not really been able to rehearse before shooting, and in regards to our budgeted time and the fickle weather must happen tonight. Albeit one of our warmer days on the farm (20-25 degrees instead of the usual single digits) we bundle up good for lying on the frozen ground while we manipulate the two to three person shadow puppet. It’s hard to tell how it looks and to get the sequence of choreography accurate every time. Rick continuously films while Biggs, Terry and I stumble our way through what one might think is a “simple” wandering across the house for Coyote. Just as the sun begins to fall too  low, we nail several goes at the full sequence of movement and wrap up the shot for the evening.

5:58 p.m.-  Now we move on to our second scene with Coyote on camera, but shooting slightly out of order, the first day of Coyote on set. Rehearsing this scene we discover that it is impossible to capture the whole scene in one take, as transforming from Riley Ann to Coyote simply takes too long. So we figure out the first part of the scene between Riley Ann  and the Old Man first. Our biggest challenge is the repetition of ripping off the Old Man’s soiled clothing without spoiling Biggs’ carefully applied age makeup. With some rehearsal we figure it out. Poor guy ends up sitting half-naked in the cold (we have to turn the heat off every time we shoot as the system makes too much noise) while the guys rig each shot and re-set. But hey, he wrote it…. so he might as well lie in it, right? Just kidding. We have blankets.

I’m pretty impressed with how quickly we get the shot after we figure out the specifics of the blocking. But then it’s on to Coyote. There’s a lot to learn about how the puppet works in front of the camera. In the vein of Jim Henson, Rick and Josh rig a monitor for me as I manipulate coyote above my eye level. The monitor is connected to Rick’s camera which is very helpful. While it might be distracting to work with the puppet as a scene partner, potentially staring at god knows what, Biggs slays the first intimate reaction with the inanimate object, and it’s moving to watch from my crouched position under the table. While the rules of puppetry on film are starkly contrasted from those on stage in a lot of surface ways, the essence of keeping the puppet alive through breath remains the same. We navigate through some unchartered challenges, like mic-ing the puppeteer from awkward angles, focus of the eyes of the puppet, and timing of arriving in place, but all in all it goes quite well. My nerves of puppeteering on film are quelled and I look forward to the other scenes starring our little, furry buddy.

8:45 p.m.- A long day of shooting done, we relax for dinner with Terri and David. Tomorrow gets started early, but I won’t be in till noon, so I look forward to a restful morning.



Our previous rehearsal of Scene 7 in Lee, MA.
Our previous rehearsal of Scene 7 in Lee, MA.
Sneak peek of the shadows at play!
Sneak peek of the shadows at play!
The magic behind the scenes. There are three of us, can you spot us all?
The magic behind the scenes. There are three of us, can you spot us all?
Weary Scene 11 make-up
Weary Scene 11 make-up
Just the two of us, goofing around,  in between takes.
Just the two of us, goofing around, in between takes.
Coyote's big moment!
Coyote’s big moment! feat. Andy Turrett (Sound) and Gail Shalan (Riley Ann/ Coyote)


On Location For Coyote Girl: Saturday 01.10.15

January has been an amazing month for Outcast Café! We have spent the past two and a half weeks officially entering the production phase of making our second short film, Coyote Girl, the poetic version of the 90 minute play script Riley Ann Visits the Outcast Cafe. After spending about two weeks on location in Westfield, Illinois the team has dispersed and continues to work on post-production for the film as well as upcoming projects for the company. Here is the next installment of our adventures on location from the perspective of company member Gail Shalan (Riley Ann, Coyote:

Saturday 01.10.15 

12:25 p.m.- While Josh starts to unload and set up lighting equipment throughout the house, Biggs and I run through the rest of the screenplay for Rick and Sims, finishing our Camera Rehearsal with scenes 11-20. The second half of our screen play brings up some interesting questions, and differing opinions, on whether or not (and how) Riley Ann is revealed as the puppeteer of Coyote. It takes a couple tries and a bit of discussion, but we come to a conclusion. I won’t say what it is: you’ll have to wait for the release to find out.
2:20 p.m.- Our fantastic hosts, Terri and David Biggs, show up to check out the rehearsal process, the changing topography of the Home Place, and (of course) the drone.

3:50 p.m.- I get more time to relax and prepare myself for the week of shooting before the cast and crew head back to Roc’s for the Chicken Pot Pie special. I go for “Too Much Wall Eye”, and it’s a lot… but it’s delicious!


DP Rick Sands works out his shot.
DP Rick Sands works out his shot.
What's to become of our fate? How will we be revealed?
What’s to become of our fate? How will we be revealed?
Our lovely hosts check out the scene.
Our lovely hosts check out the scene.

On Location for Coyote Girl: Wednesday 01.07.15

January has been an amazing month for Outcast Café! We have spent the past two and a half weeks officially entering the production phase of making our second short film, Coyote Girl, the poetic version of the 90 minute play script Riley Ann Visits the Outcast Cafe. After spending about two weeks on location in Westfield, Illinois the team has dispersed and continues to work on post-production for the film as well as upcoming projects for the company. Here is the next installment of our adventures on location from the perspective of company member Gail Shalan (Riley Ann, Coyote:

Wednesday 01.07.15

10:00 a.m.-  Biggs and I meet at the Home Place for our first rehearsal on location with Rick Sands, the road warrior. He and Terry Holland got on the road at 3 a.m. that morning and drove straight to Westfield with all sorts of equipment, including the much anticipated drones.  We figure out and feel out where each scene takes place on set and begin to discuss what we might see from the camera’s POV. The process of transitioning from stage to screen is an acting challenge for all three of us (including COYOTE), but Rick is very patient and we all begin to learn how to communicate with each other. We’re glad to have Terry on board who has experience both behind and in front of the camera, and has an amazing eye! What a great team we have. I can tell I’m going to learn so much even now.

2:15 p.m.- We break for lunch, but the guys push on. Setting up their equipment and figuring out their shots. I go back to David and Terri’s with COYOTE, so that we can work more on the COYOTE scenes.

6:25 p.m.-  Biggs and I drive to Charleston, a nearby college town, to meet Sims, Rick, and Terry for dinner at the historic Roc’s Blackfront restaurant: home to the original gambling Chicago gangsters at the turn of the last century. When Biggs was just out of school and moved back into town, this is where he used to go out on the weekends. It stands still with a happening bar on the floor above.  After dinner we bundle up and head back to Westfield to escape the cold under our blankets.

A still from our first Camera rehearsal with Rick in December.








Rick sets up an office in the Living Room of the Home Place.













A glorious pink Mid-West sunset






#inspiringfellows: December


Happy New Year, all ye creative and caring beings! It’s been a productive month for Outcast Café as we have been hard at work on pre-production rehearsals and meeting for our upcoming film Coyote Girl. Between prep and the holidays we may have gotten a little carried away with good cheer, celebration, and creation and forgotten to share with you our #inspiringfellows of December! But better late than never:


Bristol Old Vic's A Midsummer Night's Dream
ArtsEmerson presents Bristol Old Vic’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream  


Our #inspiringfellows of the month is the Bristol Old Vic Theatre  for collaborating with an old favorite, Handspring Puppet Co., several months ago on a stunning production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Holy wow, Batman! Per usual, these exquisitely manufactured hand-manipulated puppets not only stood out as stunning works of their own, but truly engaged in the storytelling of this Shakespearean favorite in places where the story had never quite been illuminated in such a way and could only have been done so by the likes of puppets! The bicycle contraption which served to turn Bottom into a literal ass was a personal favorite, but from the gardening tool hodgepodge that created Puck, to the majestic oversized Titiania and Oberon, we were transported from start to finish.


Puck serves his master Source: Angela Weiss
Puck serves his master
Source: Angela Weiss

We commend your brilliant and intentional use our favorite manipulated objects, time and time again! Bravo!


"Titania straightway loved an ass!"  Source: Angela Weiss
“Titania straightway loved an ass!”
Source: Angela Weiss





You can check out what Bristol Old Vic is up to here on their website or follow them @BristolOldVic



The Majestic Fairie King and Queen Source: Angela Weiss
The Majestic Fairie King and Queen
Source: Angela Weiss


Who do you find inspiring? Any recommended #inspiringfellows that we just can’t miss? Tweet #inspiringfellows to @outcastcafe with your inspirations and suggestions.



My First Foray With Puppets: A Throwback



(Mimi and Me in rehearsal in S. Lee, MA, photo credit Emma Sims-Biggs)

Three years ago, rehearsals began for The Dick and The Rose. I showed up for rehearsal in an old church in Lee, MA with the promise of puppets and was greeted by a bag full of white socks and a bin of magic markers. We were told to put the sock over our hand, hold it so that we could make it talk, and look for the face; then draw what we discovered onto the sock. This felt goofy, fun, juvenile, and ultimately, to quote one of my favorite acting professors, a little “fake-it-till-ya-make-it” in nature.

What then proceeded was a phenomenal discovery of the delicate and magical manipulation that happens both from within and from somewhere completely outside of oneself to bring an inanimate object to a free, vibrant and animated life. The only other times in my life I could equate this experience to, were studying the liberating art of mask during my training at LAMDA and BU, and to the early days of play in my imaginative child hood. It was a time when my playmates consisted of about fifteen Beanie Babies who fully functioned with illustrative personalities for an audience of two; my patient little brothers.

The plush creatures’ personalities were so distinct, that for years, I never forgot the cadence of a voice, the history of emotional moments in their little lives; I definitely had many a conversation with them, even when no one was there to listen. And, undoubtedly, this lasted a little longer for me that for most, after all, I still do it, but it was a universal experience, something children all over the world for years, and years, and years had experienced.



 (Mimi meets a fellow baby, photo credit ESB)

So, after allowing the inhibition and judgment of being a socialized adult to pass, we listened, looked, and allowed creative inspiration to flow through us; for the “puppets” to show us their hidden voices, thoughts, and personalities. Then, after paying close attention to the sock at hand (literally), our “puppets” were allowed to interact with the other puppets on other players’ hands.

Eventually, our fabulous puppet designer, Jim Day, brought in about six different hand designed puppet babies, that each came in three iterations of themselves at different ages, which sat inside of themselves like little nesting Matrushka dolls. We ceremoniously revealed the babes to ourselves and the rest of the company and allowed these pieces of hodge-podge fabric, foam, and thread to introduce “themselves” to us.264725_254336767914573_5046766_n

(The first time I met Mimi, and her larger iteration, Francine, photo credit ESB)


These little pieces of magic stayed with us every day through rehearsals in the hall, at our previews to Shakespeare and Co. and The Topia Arts Center, and eventually were road warriors stuffed in a suitcase on their way to Scotland. They then functioned as our primary source of audience heckling for the duration of our month in Edinburgh. But the story of Scotland is a whole other tale for another day. As is the continuous presence of puppets in my life and in the growing lives of the many stories told by the Outcast Café.


                                                                                                                             written by company member Gail Shalan