Behind the Scenes: Budi and the Hornbill 

Grace Bromage ’23

Chief Features Editor

This semester, the Department of Theater and Dance is performing “Budi and the Hornbill.” Unlike past performances at Holy Cross, “Budi and the Hornbill” uses puppets to portray many of the animals and characters within the play. The play itself is inspired by a Sumatran folk tale and is directed by Lynn Kremer. I had a chance to speak with two of the actresses, Lily Biagini ‘23 and Lauren Casey ‘23. 

Budi and the Hornbill was done with shadow puppets. Could you tell me a little more about what that looks was like?

L. Casey: The really neat thing about working with shadow puppets was not only learning how to properly maneuver physical puppets like, scorpions, snakes, monkeys, or even just regular fabric, but also having to hold your head a certain way so that your headdress didn’t catch a double image and moving your hips and arms so the picture looked more fluid. Our bodies were shadow puppets just as much, if not more so, than the actual puppets which was something very new and challenging. I think we pretty much got the hang of it though!

L. Biagni: Almost every scene involving animals was done on a projector. This was challenging simply because the animals were moved with sticks, and would get caught in the ‘trees,’ and usually hands could be seen and when this happened we would have to redo the takes. 

What was it like practicing in person again after doing a virtual fall performance? What was it like filming this?

LC: Coming off a completely virtual experience, being in person again was absolutely surreal. It was a breath of fresh air—though not literally, obviously, since we had lots of masking protocols—to be back in a physical space performing real art is absolutely incredible. 

LB: I really liked performing in person. Filming was not bad, because it was like taping a real performance. Barring any technical difficulties, we just ran the entire play through. The only difference was that we did have to overdub the audio, which was difficult since we couldn’t see our mouths moving, so we really had to guess and usually it didn’t line up exactly.

Any fun behind the scenes anecdotes?

LC: I think my favorite behind the scenes story is when we accidentally snapped Cempang’s—the horse in the play—head off during rehearsal. After the shock wore off we all had a good laugh about that one.

LB: We originally started out with Cempang as a cardboard cutout, and every scene, he got a little more and more….destroyed. First his legs came off…then his tail…then he just stopped being able to be held straight up since he just slumped over. Then we shifted to a wooden horse, which did stand up on its own. We used to have a scene where the soldiers would fight over the horse, which is no longer in the play because there may or may not have been an accidental decapitation where his head snapped off. 

Graphic by Hui Li ’21. Images from Poster and Program Courtesy of Department of Theatre and Dance.

What were your favorite favorite parts of this play?

LC: My favorite part is definitely that we were able to perform in a way that we never really have before. It was amazing being exposed to and taught about another culture’s art form, and then getting to try our hand at it.

LB: My favourite parts of this play were easily the cast bonding. When I did “She Kills Monsters,” everything was virtual so we never got to interact in person. Here, we got to actually make connections with each other, laugh over lines, and make memes. 

Any parting words/things you want the Holy Cross community to know?

LC: All I’ve got to say is, this show is definitely captivating in the visual sense and you’d be missing out by not taking a look! Thank you for all the support!

LB: I think this is an interesting play, and to my knowledge, not like anything that has been done recently at Holy Cross. I think people should go watch it because everyone worked really hard on it. Rehearsals were three hours a day, five days a week. A lot of time and effort went into this play. Everyone was in every scene, whether it be as a character or a puppet. The headdresses were amazing, and it was overall a really great time. 

“Budi and the Hornbill” will be streaming from until midnight May 9th.  

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