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Bruce

Bruce

With a piercing stare and a square hewn jaw “literally cut with a bread knife from an old mattress”, Bruce is a “stone faced clown” made of foam, and the long time collaboration of puppeteer Tim Watts and mime Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd. Bruce is finally on stage, in his first full length show, at The Blue Room from November 19 -December 7. We caught up with Wyatt and Tim to talk about their creation.

“It’s a puppetry show about making inanimate objects come to life,” says Nixon-Lloyd. “And it’s a mime show about making inanimate objects appear when they are not even there, and melding these to create an action-adventure roller-coaster movie homage.”

“Bruce is the main actor,” explains Watts. “He is telling the story and the puppet is playing multiple characters…while still retaining his essence as the main character. It really is the meeting point between puppetry and mime and telling this epic journey.”

Inspired by “fangirling out over The Muppets(particularly Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s attempts to surprise each other when performing the Swedish Chef), Bruce is a puppet operated by both the performers. Nixon-Lloyd provides the hands, while Watts manipulates the head and provides Bruce’s voice. This process has shaped the show’s content creation.

“Generally what happens is I have an idea of what happens and Wyatt will mime something. Watts says. “I will misinterpret and all of a sudden Wyatt has to mime the new thing. So what you end up with is a much better idea than either of us will have on our own. It’s an idea born of collaboration.”

Watts (Alvin Sputnik) and Nixon-Lloyd (radio host, Nickelodeon presenter, and veteran of the Melbourne improv scene) have honed the character over years of collaboration. Bruce has appeared in numerous live comedy sets, and even MCed a couple of shows. “The simplicity of the puppet is that he is just a block of foam, two eyes and a face shape that doesn’t change,” says Watts. “The tempo, the rhythm and the breath really dictate the emotion , what he is feeling, and the audience is able to read onto the puppet all sorts of different personalities and scripted changes in character.”

As for Bruce’s personality, he is described as an anti-hero in the mould of Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin. “It’s fun making this character that has really driven eyes, clearly focusing on the one thing, hopeless at that one thing.” says Nixon-Lloyd. “When he is trying to make a drink, he’ll set the bar on fire. When he is trying to drive a car, he’ll end up running over a school bus.”

“He’s kind of a clown, a fool, a lovable doofus.” proclaims Watts.

After the bitter-sweet nature of his previous two shows, Watts seems elated to “… make a show where people are just having the best time, and they are punching the air with joy at the end. To be satisfied and to have these deep emotional connections to characters and events, but also to laugh and have a kick-arse time like those big epic adventure movies.”

For tickets and session times head here.

 

DAVID O’CONNELL

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