Bloodthirsty fiends : an exploration of puppet fabrication and Beowulf
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This Graduate Thesis in Costume Technology is an exploration of Beowulf through puppet technology. Working with a playwright and a team of composers and designers, I mounted an original play, “Bloodthirsty Fiends,” as part of the Cohen New Works Festival at the University of Texas at Austin in April 2017. For the production of “Bloodthirsty Fiends” I designed and constructed a twenty-two inch tall marionette of Beowulf, a four foot tall puppet of Grendel and a nine foot tall walk-around puppet of Grendel’s Mother. Additionally, I created shadow puppets using a laser cutter. By combining old construction methods, such as sculpting and molding, with new techniques, such as laser cutting, this project aimed to find a better way to create large and small scale puppets. “Bloodthirsty Fiends” reimagined the character of Beowulf by questioning the motives and heroism behind his quest for glory. This was accomplished by creating a new script with original music composed and performed by the string quartet, Invoke. This new script developed the motivation behind Grendel’s Mother’s quest for vengeance, giving her agency and character unseen in the original text of Beowulf. In this play, all monsters and men were presented as bloodthirsty fiends. This new interpretation of Beowulf culminated in a scarier and more sympathetic interpretation of Grendel’s Mother, as portrayed by a larger-than-life walk-around puppet.