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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Talk to the Hand: Dr. Shep Sheepish on Puppets on Film

This weekend, BAMcinématek partners with the Jim Henson Foundation to present the return of the annual program Puppets on Film. We recently checked in with our resident expert in the illustrious fields of Puppetology and Puppet Studies, Dr. Shep Sheepish, to discuss the epistemology, puppetology, sockology, and general awesomeness of this year’s festival.

By Jessica Goldschmidt and Tamar MacKay

A Portrait of Dr. Sheepish. Photo: Ben Cohen

BAM: Thank you so much for meeting with us, Dr. Sheepish. You’re looking great, by the way.

Dr. Shep Sheepish: Oh, shucks.

BAM: Oh dear, I didn’t mean to make you blush!

Dr. Shep Sheepish:  Oh, no I’m sorry! It happens so easily for me. It’s a little embaaaa-rrassing.

BAM: That’s really okay. It’s thrilling to have a real expert here in the BAM Rose Cinemas. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you’re looking forward to most in the lineup?

Dr. Shep Sheepish: Ah. Yes. Well, at the risk of jumping the proverbial fence, I’m inclined to say this might just be the best year ever for this festival. And I mean ever! Oh, my, I think I’m getting carried away….what I’m saying is that there is a great variety of programs.

BAM: Anything in particular that intrigues you professionally? I know that you're the best in your field, both literally and figuratively.

Dr. Shep Sheepish: The Little Shop of Horrors Sing-Along should prove very informative as a subject example of puppet/human relations turned a little … well, ram-bunctious. I’m quite shy and don’t usually like to sing in public, plus it’s past my bedtime, but this is such an exciting event that I will be attending.

Tamar MacKay interviews Dr. Sheepish. Photo: Ben Cohen

BAM: I guess you can count your sheep friends later. Any of the newer films that you’re excited about?

Dr. Shep Sheepish: Oh, yes! Bouton, about the puppeteer who finds solace in her puppets. It just proves my longtime hypothesis that we are, indeed, an un-ewe-usually therap-ewe-tic genus.

BAM: Yes, I’m really comforted by your presence!

Dr. Shep Sheepish: Oh, well, I mean, shucks.

BAM: You’re blushing again, Doctor.

Dr. Shep Sheepish: I guess compliments make my head go all wooly.

BAM: Don’t worry about it. Let’s talk diversity. You’re of the more, I guess you’d say “fuzzy” puppet breeds, but there are whole other species represented in the festival.

Dr. Shep Sheepish: Oh yes indeed, a really broad scope. I’m particularly excited to dig up some of my rusty Mandarin for a chat with the shadowy fellows in Chinese Theatre Works: Tiger Tales. You know I did my masters coursework in Ancient Puppetology with an emphasis on Eastern modes, but that was so long ago... it will be a real challenge to engage these 2,000-year-old friends in dialogue.

BAM: I guess that’ll give you something to ruminate on, eh Doctor?

Dr. Shep Sheepish: I don’t think jokes about my digestive system are funny.

BAM: Oh geez, I’m sorry about that. I feel so… well…

Dr. Shep Sheepish: Don’t say it.

Puppets on Film runs October 25—27 at BAM Rose Cinemas and BAM Fisher.

This interview made possible by the Sweatshirt Sheep Puppetmaking Workshop.

Photo: Ben Cohen

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