Making the Angel Fly
-A story by Glenn Dobbs
Early in the process Afton Shepard was cast as the Angel. She was a natural choice given her background in dance and prodigious acting skills but at that time I was still unsure of how we are going to make her fly.
The project was initially planned for the theater that did not have a fly system and the expense of hiring professional flight choreographers, there is only one in the city, proved too daunting.
The Angel in the National Theatre Revival
I was inspired by the recent revival of Angels in America at the National Theatre in London. Despite having the best equipped theatre in the world, they chose a very different approach, Instead of a static descent through a ceiling on a wire, the traditional method, they had another idea. Using dancers, Angel Shadows, they performed a series of lifts living the Angel a chance to float around the stage . This gave the shadows an opportunity to be extensions of her being performing her will.
And the wings…the were prehensile in structure with great extension and ability to gesture and evoke emotion. I was mesmerized. In my view they were so much superior to the traditional Greco-Roman so common in other productions. They were long, elegant, alive, and often frightening,
Where in the world was I going to find something like that in Indiana?
In walked Mr Jeff Goltz. Jeff is a diminutive young man with a slight build, an elfin face, and a thin beard crowned by a spectacular curved mustache. He walked into one of our earlier proposed venues almost two years ago. He was wearing a beret and two color leggings.
He told me, "I am a professional puppeteer and a ventriloquist.”
I said, “OK”.
No one has ever said that to me before. I was more than a little skeptical.
He was all of 23 years old. He looked like he was 16.
However he was supremely confident so we moved forward.
I explained what I wanted and he immediately produced a tape measure and started measuring Afton.
I was sure nothing would come of this meeting.
I was wrong.
Over the next year, working in our studio, Jeff meticulously crafted a glorious set of wings.
Here is a short video of his efforts
I came to know Jeff as a meticulous craftsman and a genuine artist. What he created was astounding and far exceeded my expectations.
Jeff would go on to create the detailed puppets seen in Part two of the play.
Jeff is the most genuine artist I know and his skill set appears limitless.
Below is the spectacular result
And you know what? He really is a ventriloquist as well! He is quite good at it. Enjoy!