Cover photo: B. Pittman
“Halloween is my biggest interest. Using Halloween makes it easier to bleed my way into other areas of art,” says Bran Rogers.
Rogers credits his mother’s Halloween drawings during his Kindergarten days for the budding inspiration that would have amazing sticking power. Childhood Halloween crafts expanded to front porch haunted houses. The holiday then began to creep into other seasons with summer spook houses.
For several years Rogers has treated downtown Knoxville haunts to his whimsical take on All Hallows Eve. From his front yard, to galleries and alleyways, fans have enjoyed discovering his enchanting art. Rogers says, “I work best when I’m working on ten things at once.”
Bran is one of the hardest-working artists I know. He is a true example of the artist who makes things because he has to, not just because he wants to. It’s in his bones. Working (and goofing off) with him is a whirlwind of inspiration. One idea begets another idea, begets another. Theatre Obsolete is a culmination of all these ideas, and it’s a way his talent can really shine in the spotlight. – Jenna Hancock, artist
Rogers’ Theatre Obsolete will be hosting its annual Spook Show, All Hallow Even, at the Mary Boyce Temple house on October 26 at 8pm and 10pm. The 7th Annual PoMoNoBo Hallowe’en Art Show will taking place simultaneously at the same venue beginning at 5pm.
“With the puppet shows, the Spook Show in particular, it’s like creating those [childhood] spook houses again, but onstage in a variety show setting.” says Rogers.
Theatre Obsolete represents exactly the type of group we’re seeking to collaborate with and promote. They’re a small group of independent artists whose hard work deserves to be recognized and enjoyed, and their style of performance is unlike anything else seen in Knoxville. They led a very fun workshop that provided unique insight into the very physical aspects of performance and character development.
You can make puppets by recycling items from your household.
Eyes can be made from plastic spoons or ping pong balls.
Lightweight felt tears easily. Heavy felt or fleece works best for cloth puppets.
Rogers says to “think in an abstract manner, and not details, when it comes to simple puppets. His flapping bat puppets were made quickly with heavy felt, wire, wax, glue, and a dowel. Don’t worry about the feet or head.
Rogers is a fan of Target’s skulls with movable jaws. He cuts a hole in the bottom of the skull and partially stuffs it with closed-cell foam for a simple hand hold. A small thumb hold is inserted inside the chin.
Below, Bran is puppeteering to the song “Build Me Up, Buttercup.” He suggests a budding puppeteer practice to his favorite songs to build up wrist and arm strength. Rogers also recommends practicing in front of a mirror, or to video your practice, so you track arm height slippage due to fatigue. Bran says to “use your non-dominant hand for easier segments, and save your dominant hand for challenging puppeteering tasks.