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Jim Henson: A Biography

Discussion in 'Storytelling and Puppets' started by LarryTheClown, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    I've been reading a new-ish book called "Jim Henson: A Biography," and it's a fascinating look at the guy's career. I especially love how Henson basically stumbled onto puppetry. I always imagined that it was always his crazy dream to pursue, but apparently he more or less stumbled onto puppetry by accident. Long story short, he was more obsessed with the new technology of television, and puppetry was one of the things he discovered early on would get him onto TV. He only really went full on into puppetry when he did a tour of Europe and discovered that, hey, puppetry can be a pretty respected art form. And from then on, magic.

    I also really admire the aesthetic. It's almost a good thing he really wasn't into puppets in the beginning. Mainly because his style of puppetry was so radically different from the norm (namely how he integrated the camera into creating sight gag special effects) that I think the art would've suffered if he'd hewed close to tried and true practices. As someone who's just a beginner in clowning, it's almost inspirational, especially since I feel like I'm in the same boat: knowing what I want to do to perform, but not knowing the traditional elements in doing it ... and yet, somehow succeeding still with stuff that's probably amateur hour. :)
     
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  2. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    I listened to an interview with the author (I presume) of this essay last week. As he discussed, Henson really quite quite the esoteric character, ahead of his time, whose work went well beyond the Muppets. For example, much of the (almost trippy) video interludes on Sesame Street (such as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12)... Jim Henson! This was his opportunity to work personally on something which appealed to him in artistic endeavor.

    A couple of years ago. I had the opportunity to visit the touring Smithsonian exhibit on Henson's history, which detailed his work from early high school drawings through the latter project of Fraggle Rock. His attentive detail to technique and structure is quite instructive. If you ever are able to experience it for yourself, don't miss it for anything!
     
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  3. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    I was actually kinda surprised how many of those early and iconic Sesame Street videos were directed by Jim Henson himself. Apparently Henson had a knack for short films, and even before he showed up on Sesame Street he had done an art film that had been nominated for an Academy Awards. So pretty much all the stuff that look like found footage indie films was all Henson.

    There's even two that I seem to remember from my youth (but the book says was banned from broadcast for being too scary; maybe they were resurrected at a later time?) that he co-created the help of famed children's book author, Maurice Sendak. One was entitled "Barty Arty had a party" which I remember specifically because the rhyme itself is tickling my memory bones.
     
  4. disco moon

    disco moon New Member

    amazing.. I'll have to check that out
     

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