Artem Case Studies
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Marcus Hall Props/Warner Bros Theatre Ventures
Artem’s contribution to the show consisted of two requests - firstly to design and build an inflatable suit for gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde as she starts to transform from a normal girl into a giant blueberry, and secondly to devise a series of experiments for the Oompa-Loompas in their sweet-testing laboratory.
The inflatable suit had to fit each of the four child actors covering the part, and be self-contained under their outer costume. It also had to be operated by the child and, of course, be safe. At Artem, Laura Sindall made up a couple of patterns that were trialled to get the best ‘look’, and discussions covered just how much of the body would inflate. Eventually, it was decided that the inflatable areas would be the torso, thighs and upper arms. The air supply had to be tiny in order to be hidden, but had to be capable of ensuring a full inflation; this narrowed options down to using dive components, with their safety margins and long reliability record. This, with some safety controls and switching, allowed the pneumatics to be hidden away in a small backpack that the actor was wearing. Other safety valves ensured the suit could not over-inflate and squish the child! It was very amusing when the prototype was first tried out, great fun for the child, and satisfying for the Production.
The Oompa-Loompa sweet experiments were more of an open book. They wanted to be interesting mechanisms on stage, with bright colours, bubbles, and smoke, but had to be contained in a very small footprint due to the set and the dancing action around them. Six different units were built incorporating air and fluid pumps, with lots of tubing and wacky containers with bubbles floating from one, while smoke rose gently from others.
See the official trailer for the show here.
- Touring Shows, Dance and Theatre
- Electronic Design
- Mechanical Rigs
- Special Costume