Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Aubrey Clinedinst

22: Aubrey Clinedinst

Support the further development of the original puppet ballet, “Starman*”

Aubrey Clinedinst (they/them) is a clown, puppeteer, and performer based out of Brattleboro, VT. Professional credits include: original cast member in All Hallows Eve by Martin P. Robinson (including the Off-Broadway production); original English-speaking cast of The Story of Qu by Dario Fo and Franca Rame; an original character based on the Prologue for Henry VIII for Valley Shakespeare Festival; and Pulcinella in the local Commedia troupe at Main Street Arts in Saxtons River. Aubrey has been an artist-in-residence at Surel’s Place in Boise, ID, where they developed their first solo show, as well as an artist-in-residence for the Object Movement Puppetry Festival 2020/2022 at the Center at West Park in NYC where they worked to develop Starman*. Aubrey holds an MFA in Physical Theatre from the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy where topics studied included Commedia dell’Arte, red-nose clown, buffoon, full face mask with Familie Floz, and circus arts.

Project description

Starman* is a puppet ballet inspired by the music of David Bowie and my own experience coming out as a trans, non-binary human. Featuring original music by Matt Dunphy and puppets designed and built by myself out of recycled/reclaimed material, Starman* is a queer allegory for accepting all the colorful aspects of oneself and learning how to navigate life and love with a new identity, despite vicious heteronormative backlash.

Starman* follows the story of an astronaut who merges with an alien species to save their life following a tragic space accident. The now alien-astronaut chimera with their new identity returns to their home planet. However, they find that acceptance and love is not as simple as it once was, but when it happens, it’s oh so magical.

Our ensemble has developed a solid 15 minutes of material so far. The show combines projection/shadow puppetry enhanced with some rad special effects and stop motion; tabletop and hand puppets; and oversized, fantastical “”human scale”” puppets with physical theatre and dance to create a truly captivating display.

With this round of funding, my ensemble and I would like to extend into a full-length show by weaving origination mythology into the show, adding more ensemble members, and finishing the ending of the show. The resulting show would be a fully fleshed out 60-90 minute non-verbal spectacle.

This project has literally seen me through my own coming out and transition and has made things possible for me I didn’t even know existed. Given the current climate of virulent anti-trans sentiment, it is imperative to get this show made so that a euphoric queer story created by a trans artist can make it out into the wider world and help others feel seen, heard, and magical. I implore you to aid me in my goal of visibility. Not just for myself, but for all the visibility I know this piece has inspired and can inspire.

Media Sample 1

Starman_Love Story_Puppet Dance Sample. “The Astronaut/Alien Chimera and a femme earthling finding love, with the help of some friends, despite how some may feel. The first piece we made.”

Media Sample 2

Starman_Space Oddity_Puppetry Sample. “The current opening sequence of Starman* where we see how our protagonist enters and gets lost in space.”

Media Sample 3

Starman_Revive_Photo by Richard Termine. “The aliens come to revive the astronaut, stranded and dying in space after their tragic accident.”

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Acadia Klepeis August 4, 2023