The 5 Basic Movements of Hand & Rod Puppets
Many of today’s top puppeteers have stated that the basics are easy but felt it would take 3-5 years before the basics could be considered mastered, second nature to the puppeteer.
Many award-winning puppeteers will usually include an advanced technique or two in their show but watch them closely and you will see how much basic puppetry comprises the puppet’s sublte movements. And when the basics are performed fluidly and flawlessly the result is most pleasing to the eye. How do you know you have mastered the 5 basics of puppetry? You will, not can, will be able to perform while blindfolded just like a professional juggler can.
Now, let's get started!
5 BASIC MOVEMENTS ARE:
Now that you have your arm and hand in position, take note of where the tip of your fingers are pointed. Your finger tips are your puppets eyes -- where your puppet is looking! In the photo to the left, "Bad Eye Contact", where do you think the puppets eyes are looking? If you said, "At the stars!" you are correct! The puppet is looking elswhere, not at his audience. It seems like the puppeteer is trying to catch flies rather than operate a puppet. So it is very important to train your hand to become like an Egyptian dancer.
Mar-y had a lit-tle lamb
Its fleece was white as snow
1) Practice in a mirror. Dresser mirror, bathroom mirror, hall entry mirror, reflection in a window, etc.
2) Video your practice sessions.
3) Eventually video your practices with your eyes closed. Better yet, blindfolded. This is a sure way to learn where your weaknesses and strengths are as you watch playback of the video. Muppeteers are looking at a monitor below them, right? They know their puppet SO well, that they have mastered their every move and idiosyncrasies. Just know, what might work fabulously on one puppet may not on another.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It is always about the puppet, not the puppeteer. Much like a musician, it is about the sound, not the artist, unless planned. If an artists is not focused on their craft, it will show. Puppetry is a very old art form and everyone has pretty much seen a show or two in their life no matter how old they are. Those wishing to become serious about their puppetry would do well to learn the craft thoroughly. Through workshops, master classes, one-on-one coaching. It is very hard to undo poor training.
Lastly, though children have no knowledge of basic puppetry skills, they have seen enough shows at school, on TV and even on the street being performed by "Buskers", they know the difference between good and poor puppetry. They are a tough audience and have no problem voicing it or worse, leaving your show. Keep your technique polished, and your content simple and you will have a great time! Your audience will thank you for it! Literally!
Rocky's puppet body, created by Pannabecker Productions, is now exclusively available at PuppetsInc.com