Tim Sykes, 26 January 2014

A mixture of puppet practitioners and people interested in the use of puppetry

discussed how they felt, Questions asked were:

How can you use puppetry? In any way you can imagine and the rest.

Why use puppets? when it adds to the story telling or creation of the piece as a

concept, if an actor can do it better then why use a puppet. A puppet can add both

connection and distance to a character that possibly a performer can't - Warhorse was

an example where the audience buy into an abstract concept of horse and in doing so

also buy into the show as a whole.

How much time does puppetry need in rehearsal?

As much time as needed for the level of performer, if you are expecting a non

puppeteer to learn the technique and craft then a long long time!, If it is a puppeteer

then only slightly longer than a non puppeteer but of course this depends on technical


Are puppeteers and puppet companies needing scripts that are part of the ‘genre’?

There is no genre of puppet script, There is no subject that is puppet taboo, the

difference is how it is told, distilling the dialogue and remembering they are a visual

medium that use words. In some ways the cinematic script is more puppet than a

dialogue based one… but of course never say never.

How do you include puppetry in a theatre making process?

One process the puppetry world uses heavily is research and Development, a specific

time to play with ideas and concepts, a time to experiment. “Puppets” in this part of the

process can be as crude in their making to convey the movement needed, sometimes

made from newspaper on the spur of the moment or substitutes puppets used. This

process then has time to design and build puppets before rehearsals begin, it also

allows script changes, conceptual changes etc.

Is Puppetry and Art form or a Tool?

Well both or neither or either. depending on how you would like to use it.

Can someone who has never used puppetry before do so in a show?

Ideally no, You usually end up spending ages training and developing a craft in a

rehearsal process, would you cast someone who has little or no experience playing a

musical instrument? A puppetry director also can bring out much more from a puppet

performance working in conjunction with a director if it is a mixture of both Actors/

Dancers/ Singers and Puppets. Of course economics make this seem like a false

economy, 9 times out of 10 though not using a puppeteer etc wastes much more time

and will give you a bad experience.

How can we change the preconception that Puppetry is only for children.

Only by creating shows that are non child specific and including them in the thought

processes of new work can we shift this perception, It may never be totally erased but

a shift in balance would be fantastic. Puppetry can deal with issues that may be too

raw for an actor to convey, The slight alienation effect of the puppet can draw an

audience into the empathy of a project.

Can puppets do "kitchen sink' drama?

Yes, but why? What would it bring to the project?

What is a Puppet?

Anything inanimate can be a puppet, the intention with which it it used and why

defines it, It is possible to change a prop into a puppet. A puppet means different

things to all of us, It needn't be the most obvious version, It does not need to be of

human form or even anthropomorphic

A performer and their relationship to a puppet can change from being a prop to a fully

formed character, Is a doll a puppet? both yes and no depending on the emotional

space between them and the performer and the connection between them. Puppetry is

the basis of a lot of CGI for film and animation.

A connection was made between physical theatre / dance and puppetry, the use of

space and visual storytelling.

The different types of puppetry include Glove, Shadow, Marionette (string), Rod,

Tabletop, Lipsync (Muppet), Animatronic, …. All have their own characteristics and

styles which can be exploited.

Can puppetry help an actor/performer who may not consider being a puppeteer?

Yes, because the connection with an inanimate object could be used as part of the

story telling. Finding out how an inanimate object can tell a story.

How can a writer, director or performer connect with the puppetry world?

The Puppet Centre based in Battersea Arts Centre can connect you with Puppet

Companies/ Puppeteers/ Makers throughout the UK.

The Little Angel Theatre in Islington have a series of workshops and initiatives for

creators to explore how to make shows with puppetry or including puppetry. They

have a dedicated R&D period during the summer for exploratory work and Hatch

which showcases developing work.

The Little Angel is also a very good connection in London for contacting people -

makers, puppeteers, puppet directors, puppet lighting designers, puppet set

designers, etc. with connections around the globe. They have a workshop which also

makes puppets and masks for other companies. If you have questions or need help

then the network here can help you usually no matter what the show style or aesthetic.

Puppeteers UK - PUK also list shows and makers on the internet

Facebook is also a good place top find puppetry pages in the UK. and around the


I am sure there is stuff to be added to this and also changed, it was a starting block for

the puppet curious.


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