La MaMa Blogs: 6 Questions for Charlotte Lily Gaspard of JUMP START

Monday, October 18, 2021

6 Questions for Charlotte Lily Gaspard of JUMP START

Charlotte Lily Gaspard is the founder and artistic director of Midnight Radio Show, a shadow puppet sci-fi fairytale theater company based in Brooklyn, NY. She designs puppets for theater and film. Her project MIA M.I.A. is an urban fairytale for adults that will be part of Jump Start: A presentation of Works in Progress. There are only 4 performances at La MaMa, so get your tickets now!

1. Do you have a favorite puppet in your performance?

My favorite puppet in my performance is a large scale shadow puppet of a fairy. She has articulated appendages, and I love the way she moves -- even though she is as big as I am. I hand cut all of my silhouette puppets, a long time passion, but it is only recently that I have dedicated more time in my artistic practices to make such large shadow puppets. 

2. What draws you to work with puppets?

I am drawn to use puppets in my work for many reasons. I fell in love with the art of shadow puppetry over ten years ago, from the moment I made my first paper cuts and shone a light on them. “Analogue magic” is a phrase and a goal I am drawn to. For me, puppetry is an intersection of craft and magic. When a puppeteer breathes life into an inanimate object, something incredible happens. The imagination of the audience is activated in a new way; this is the whole reason I became a theatre artist and storyteller in the first place. 

3. What have you learned from creating and performing new work during a pandemic?

Creating and performing during the pandemic has been challenging, and yet very rewarding. Innovation is not always a comfortable or easy journey, but I knew from the start of lockdown that I would need to keep making work. Directing a zoom show is very different from a live stage production, but I am blessed to work with adaptable, deeply talented people in my company, Midnight Radio Show. Although many were in different time zones, calling in for rehearsals and shows from Montana, California, Massachusetts and India, we still put our enchantments out into the world. 

4. What should audiences expect from the performance?

Our offering for the La MaMa Puppet Festival is the first 25 minutes of a new shadow puppet musical for adults, titled Mia M.I.A written and directed by myself. The show has original songs and music by our long-time collaborators Jessie Davis, Malik Work and Doc Frost. A combination of shadow puppets and live action/movement theater, the story is a modern science fiction fairytale that will whisk audiences away into our enchanted galaxy. 

5. Who and what has inspired you?

I am inspired by magical realism on stage (and everywhere), unexpected interactions, and the transformative power of new perspectives. This is partly why I love shadow puppets, and puppets in general. I have a background in costumes, and have always been drawn to visual storytelling. When a papercut is illuminated and projected onto a screen it becomes something new, a character or place, evoking ideas or feeling. 

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?

Working at La MaMa is a dream come true! To have the support and feedback of Denise Greber and the whole La Mama team could not have come with better timing. During the pandemic, I was determined to continue making and sharing work, even though I am a theater artist who suddenly found herself  doing zoom shows and making videos. What a learning curve! It was such an isolating time for all of us citizens of Earth, but being in residence at La MaMa gave me a new artistic community. I am very grateful, and constantly inspired. 

La MaMa Presents

Jump Start: A Presentation of Works in Progress

Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, Charlotte Lily Gaspard, Tom Lee, Leah Ogawa, Tarish "Jeghetto" Pipkins

October 21 – 24, 2021

The Downstairs
66 East 4th Street, basement level
New York, NY 10003

Oct 21, Thursday at 7pm
Oct 22, Friday at 7pm
Oct 23, Saturday at 7pm
Oct 24, Sunday at 2pm

Ticket Prices
Adults: $25
Students/Seniors: $20

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