Wednesday, 14 January 2015

2014 Wrap Up

What? I didn't even post in this blog once in 2014! Must've been keeping very busy! Here's what I got up to:

The QUT film crew who started filming a documentary about me in 2013 continued to film me during the first six months of 2014. The film is currently in post production. Hopefully it sees the light of day. So much time went into the project. Plus it'd be a great addition to my showreel! 

My Larrikin Puppets 2014 highlights letter (here) explains in more detail about my year, including meetings with marionette puppeteer David Hamilton, and American puppeteers from The Jim Henson Company - Grant Baciocco and Peggy Eltra. Grant was kind enough to show me all the puppets backstage at the Henson "Puppet Up!" show at the Brisbane Powerhouse! And we've stayed in touch ever since via social media. 

The Anywhere Festival show I was keeping my fingers crossed about in my last post (the 2013 wrap up) ended up being quite a success! "Thank Troggg You're Here: A Puppet Impro Spectacular!" pulled large crowds and got some great reviews! We performed the show four times at Mowbraytown Hall in East Brisbane, and then three more encore performances at The New Globe Theatre in Fortitude Valley. More details about the show, the cast (yep - I had a cast) and all of it's technical wizardry here: 

The short films I worked on in 2013 were finally completed and released! All three episodes of "Cluck - The Web Series" (plus behind-the-scenes footage) and "Heart of a Thousand Souls" can be watched in their entirety here:
Troggg even got to MC the premiere screening of HOATS! :-) 

"Australia's Got Talent" auditions were not called at all in 2014. At least not in Brisbane. Who knows if the show even aired in 2014? I'm not even sure. I don't watch commercial TV.  :-P  

I was 'puppetry consultant' again for a local production of Broadway puppet musical "Avenue Q" - this time with a new cast. I wasn't a part of the 2014 cast like I was in 2012. I had quite a few other things on that would clash, including Thank Troggg You're Here. I did get to meet a few cast members of the Broadway version of Avenue Q though! But I'll tell you a bit later about our New York trip. 

I also spent a few days in the outback town of Injune (one hour's drive from Roma), where I had a couple of puppet show bookings. One for an Under 8's Day, and another for the Spring Fair. I think I preferred the Under 8's Day. I felt like a rock star! They had a Troggg cake, Troggg showbags, and craft materials for the kids to make a small Troggg hand puppet! Unfortunately, there wasn't any parental supervision of the kids at the Spring Fair, and so kids were heckling, booing and throwing cupcake wrappers at my puppet stage. They were shouting things like, "Why don't you kill yourself?" -- at a PUPPET SHOW! And "Bye stupid puppet! I'll murder you someday!"... From the mouths of babes. BUT I did have a great stay in Injune. They paid for my flights, accommodation, and meal allowance. Meals were eaten at the local pub, which was the only thing open after about 4pm. And they were good, decent meals too. The people who booked me were very nice and friendly, and the Best Western hotel I stayed in was quite nice too. I enjoyed my first business flight. I hope there'll be more, now that I know how the excess baggage deal works with all of my puppets, stage, audio equipment, etc.  

Impro / Improv / Improvisational Theatre:
Once again, in addition to my weekly shows with ImproMafia (usually attended by one or two people if we were lucky), I played piano during another season "Youth Theatresports" heats. And of course, "Thank Troggg You're Here" consisted of improvisers I knew from ImproMafia and Edge Improv. The most rewarding impro shows were indeed the Thank Troggg shows, despite there being some sort of technical glitch each night during the setup of the camera/monitor/projector stuff. We always had a great show in the end. But the tech stuff did like to challenge us with something new each time. But it's still better than performing to an empty room. I guess I'm pretty spoilt in that regard. I'm so used to performing to full houses with the various bands I've been in, that it's just weird and depressing when nobody shows up to a gig. 

Headkase played our one annual show. Members don't all live in Brisbane anymore, and have different lives now. So since 2011 we've committed to one big show a year. But it was the first show without my brother Todd on drums. He was touring with King Parrot at the time, so we had another mate rehearse with us for a couple of weeks and drum for us on the night - Daniel Trickett from Like Thieves. Awesome guy! He even did the evil clown facepaint on the night, keeping with Todd's tradition in Headkase since our very first show back in about April 2001. As for other bands, I just don't have time or money for regular rehearsals and gigs these days. Too much else going on. I'm happy to do the Headkase thing once a year, but I just think I've run out of patience and passion to be in any more bands at this stage. Maybe in a few years I'll feel like it again.  

"Normal" Workplace:
Due to a few months of quiet time with the puppetry, I took a job in a call centre, calling Telstra Business customers to basically annoy them and ask if they had any issues. Most people didn't. But we had to probe for some, and keep them on the phone for as long as possible. When they did have issues to discuss, we didn't have the facilities to help. So we had to transfer the customer over to an offshore agent to try and sort out the problem, much to the anger of the customer who didn't even initiate the call, and the long holding times that come with it. Anyway, I found it hard to meet the targets and make the company happy. Plus they were very strict in there. And I was being bullied by a manager who wasn't even one of my own managers! So I left after four months. By this time, the puppet bookings were coming in frequently and fast. It was frustrating not to be able to answer my phone while at that workplace, and having to call people back whenever I could during the brief break we got.  

Housemate and Moving House:
My friend who moved into my place in August 2013 moved out in about February or March 2014, to be closer to her workplace. After several unsuccessful attempts to find new housemates, I ended up moving to Moorooka in July with my amazing girlfriend, Elissa, who I'd been seeing since November 2013. I'm still unpacking boxes from the full house of stuff I've transported over to the place. Plus boxes of childhood stuff too from the family home I grew up in. My Dad has moved out of that family home, and is in the process of moving into a retirement village. 

Yes, my amazing girlfriend I started seeing just before my previous post. Now, after a bit over a year together, we're engaged! We're having a small family registry wedding in June, followed by a big party! And hopefully a cruise (if we can afford it) for the honeymoon. Will keep you posted. We've had a great year - TV on the couch, a couple of weekends at Bribie Island, a weekend at Coloundra, a weekened on Stradbroke Island for a friend's 40th birthday. Various parties, some gigs including Kate Miller-Heidke, The Clouds, a few local theatre and impro shows, and my brother's band King Parrot. Elissa and I go for walks around the block, we do the shopping, see a movie every so often, eat out, cook together at home. We even went to New York together! We help each other a lot. We're there for each other during difficult times. We're a really nice pair. It's easygoing. No dramas, no complications. We support each other fully in our own endeavours. It's a very lovely relationship - the best one I've ever been in. And that's why we're making our commitment to be together forever official :-)

New York:
I'd never been to New York before, nor had I seen falling snow before -- until 2014 when Elissa and I travelled to New York at the end of November, staying for ten nights. Best time ever! We went to so many shops, restaurants, bars. We saw some underground local bands, we saw some local improv, we went to two Broadway shows - Avenue Q (of course, as mentioned above) and Book of Mormon! Very funny, edgy musicals. We stayed in a beautiful apartment in East Harlem (aka Spanish Harlem), with lovely landlords living downstairs. 

Really nice community, friendly people, a quick walk to the subway (we took a train somewhere almost every day), and just really easy and convenient. We saw the Kaufman Astoria Studio where they film Sesame Street, and we went to a Sesame Street exhibit at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. We checked out Times Square, Central Park and the Empire State Building (at night - no queue). We each designed a Muppet at the FAQ Schwartz Muppet Whatnot Workshop. We also took a day trip to Washington DC. 

It wasn't until our very final day that it started snowing! So we went out in it and had a great time! In the evening, we went to Bryant Park to see the big Christmas tree and all the ice skaters. Then when we came back home to East Harlem (it felt like home) to hand over the apartment keys, our neighbourhood was all covered in snow! The cars, fire hydrants, mail boxes, fences. 

It was a Winter Wonderland! Love that city. I want to come back again someday - Maybe to live and work for a year or something! 

I'm sure I've forgotten a few things about 2014. But that's it in a nutshell. Happy New Year!