FestiFools April 1st Parade
FestiFools 2008 is scheduled for Sunday, April 6, at 4pm (Fools at Four!). For updates and information about how you can be involved in the process to create the magnificent street creatures, visit the Street Theater Art website.
Being a Burns Park Player means having the pleasure of working with very creative, ambitious, and sometimes crazy people. Set designer and UM lecturer Mark Tucker is certainly one of the most creative, ambitious, and crazy in the bunch, and I know he’ll take that as the compliment it’s meant to be. Especially the crazy part. Because to do something completely new and different in Ann Arbor requires craziness!
When Mark first approached me about photographing FestiFools, I couldn’t get my head around the project at all. A parade of giant papier mache puppets on April Fool’s Day. Why that was so hard for me to imagine, I haven’t a clue (especially in retrospect). However, since Mark was the driving force behind the project, I knew it would be a high-quality event, and I agreed to participate.
A month before the parade date, I began photographing the puppet making process at the studio on Felch Street. The puppet makers (UM undergraduates enrolled in Mark’s “Art in Public Spaces” course and community volunteers ) sculpted the puppet forms from clay, casted plaster molds, and finally used papier mâché to construct the final puppet pieces. The pieces were primed, painted, and assembled (often with cloth and other materials) into characters and scenes larger than life!
Before the parade weekend, the weather reports forecast windy, stormy weather for the parade. And on Sunday, the forecast for 4pm, the parade starting time, showed the highest chance of storms. As dramatic clouds gathered and, dare I say, paraded about, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who worried if those very clouds would mock the hell out of everyone’s hard work.
(Let me just put an end to the cliffhanger in the last paragraph, and assure you that the weather was sublime for the parade.)
I rented a 12-24mm Nikkor Zoom lens f/4.0 for parade day. I generally kept low to the ground and shot upwards. The clouds proved to be a glorious backdrop for the puppets.
Mark’s students began their march from Felch Street to Kerrytown, where we met up with the UM School of Art + Design group. At Main Street, other groups (including the talented UM percussion group Groove) waited for our arrival. Various “freelance” clowns and performers joined in. The event was enormously energized. A total thrill that had to be experienced to be believed. Mark said the parade even surpassed his expectations. The crowds of spectators in attendance certainly caught FestiFools fever. I only wish more could have seen it!
A selection of my shots was displayed at Sweetwaters (who sponsored my participation, along with the Alice Lloyd Scholars Program) during the month of April. On flickr, I saw the hundreds of shots of the event taken by other photographers — everyone had their own way of seeing and capturing the event. One photographer, Amy Palomar, agreed to let me include some of her images in the show. Next year, I’d love the show to include images from a large group of photographers.
flickr slideshow of my pre-production and parade images from Festifools 2007.