Week of 3/25/19: Dennis Lee Productions
This past week, I met up with my mentor Dennis Lee, and his stagehand Tony. This is the fourth mentor visit I have been on and each time I have the opportunity to see his show, which is always different. We discussed a lot and it is a neat experience because each visit grows the friendship. He talked about hiring me to create a new character for his show and holding a puppet building class for him and Tony. For me, learning to build puppets was a thrill and although Dennis and Tony aren’t going to go full time into building and selling puppets, knowing how to deal with puppets breaking is a must for any hard working performer, which Dennis is. I got to examine his main character which were the originals he used when he started his act. A small monkey named Mickey, and a big monkey named Nick. Both created by Verna Finley who pioneered the soft sculpture puppet market in ventriloquism. I have already started on sketching possible ideas for his new character and look forward to the process ahead. Before leaving, as Tony packed up the show (which was comprised of 3 traveling neon yellow cases) Dennis stopped and talked with me about my future. Both of us being christians, and ventriloquists, it meant a lot that he took the time. He talked with me about my material and how no matter what I chose to do in vent, I need to set a standard for myself, a list of morals I won’t cross for anything. From talking with Dennis, I’ve realized how important one’s image is as an entertainer. If you are doing family shows and then people see you doing blue material, it not only will raise some confusions, but it will decrease your shows per year. This is different than playing the market, which is what some do. Some do adult, family, and children shows. But it’s important to establish that power you have over your act to adapt it to where you are and who you’re performing for. The people that do a bit of everything often have at least two different websites that establish themselves as one person that can be ideal for either age range of audience. This month, in relation to what Dennis has told me, is looking hopeful. I booked two shows and both allow me to adapt my thirty minute show to better fit their audience, which is ideal. I’ve also realized how strong of the performer it makes me to start with a family act. This is because I’m able to do parties, banquets, fairs, and other family friendly locations. Up to this point I have built puppet s and done some shows, but felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything, so its a thrill to be working on a new character and my first real show.