Wonderful World of Puppetry



An art form which involves controlling and manipulating puppets, puppetry is believed to be as old as around 3000 BC. In all its varieties, puppetry essentially brings inanimate objects to life through stories and performances. Being a form of theatre, puppetry is common in all cultures and geographical regions of the world.
Sesame Workshop: Sesame Workshop is the non-profit, educational organization behind the world famous Sesame Street show and so much more. Their projects teach children important lessons in literacy and numeracy, emotional wellbeing, etc.
Shadow Puppet Theatre: Shadow Theater in Cambodia is one of the most traditional formats for storytelling. As with other kinds of Shadow Theater, the performance involves the projection of light or fire on a white screen on which performers use puppets to produce shadows. Read on to find out more.
Jim Henson Foundation: Since 1982, the Jim Henson Foundation has made over 600 grants for the development of new works of contemporary American puppet theater. Each year the number of applicants and the scope of their artistic vision continues to grow.
Center for Puppetry Arts: The Center for Puppetry Arts is a vibrant, 33-year-old organization dedicated to the art form of puppetry.

Ideas for Puppetry

Puppet shows can be based on a wide variety of themes, subjects, and contexts. Throughout history, puppetry has influenced and has been influenced by the prevalent sociopolitical landscape.
World Association of Puppeteers: The World Association of Puppeteers (WAP) has the purpose to unite all puppeteers in one big family. WAP also presents the World Festival of Puppet Art each year in Prague.
UNIMA 2012: UNIMA is an international non-government organization of UNESCO, which was founded in the 1920s in Prague, the capital of Czech Republic. It's headquarters are located in Charleville-Mézières, France.
Japan Arts Council: Find out all about the Japan Arts Council and the different events it holds.
Puppeteers of America: PoA is a national organization dedicated to the art of puppetry.

A Lesson from History

One can always pick up puppetry ideas from history. Over the years, puppet shows have been developed for many purposes. During the 1600s in England, puppet shows filled the void that was created due to the banning of theater by the Puritans. Within a couple of centuries, puppets had found uses in exclusive entertainment forms such as satirical plays and operas.
The 60’s saw the use of giant puppets in politically themed street theater, while Muppets found a place in education through the Sesame Street series. Later on, Muppets became widely popular and also found uses in schools for the teaching of different subjects, including fiction and history.
All these ideas are valid till today and should be taken into consideration whenever a puppet show is being planned.
1600 to today: Radical Puppetry: A short history of puppets, puppeteers and working class politics from the English Civil War to the streets of Seattle in 1999.
A Brief Introduction of Chinese Puppetry: Chinese puppetry has a long history. It is noted for its many types of puppets and superb manipulative skill. Find out all about it here.
History of Puppetry: A closer look at the history of puppetry, its types, and the phases it has gone through.
International Puppetry Museum: The International Puppetry Museum is dedicated to promoting, preserving, and advancing the international art of puppetry. IPM will support and enrich the diverse communities of the west coast through outreach programs that blend exhibitions, research, and puppet activities.

Use Existing Content

An easy way to create a puppet show is to develop a show around an already existing theme. Popular stories and shows can be considered when borrowing a story for your puppet show. You can select performances from a pre-defined script or from a prerecorded performance from a radio show or movie. A popular option is to dance along on a prerecorded song that connects with your audience. If the puppets are mimicking real-life characters, they can be dressed in the same manner to represent who they are.

Puppet Scripts: Ready to use scripts for puppet shows based on stories that appeal to kids. These scripts are sure to narrow down your hunt for the ideal script for your next show.

No Strings: No Strings is an organization that raises awareness of varous important issues through puppet shows in different impoverished parts of the world.

Write Your Own Script

Yet another option is to write and work with an original script of your own. You can always look for inspiration from a variety of sources, for example actual events, poetry, historic and moral lessons, literary works by others, etc. A dominant opinion among puppetry experts is that a puppet script should identify the 4 W’s:

1 - What is happening in the story?
2 - Who are the characters?
3 - Where does the story take place?
4 - What is the conflict that needs to be resolved?

One should try to always include these lessons in a puppet show, even if it’s a counting lesson.

Christian Scripts Free: A huge collection of scripts for you to use without any legal responsibilities.
Dramatic License: Dramatic License uses wit and wisdom to make the Bible come alive through creative, funny and thought-provoking short-form dramatic scripts. Churches and other Christian organizations use these scripts to bring the Bible and its life-changing message to audiences of all ages.

They’re Only Puppets

Just like human actors, puppets have their own characteristics in every performance. The only difference being that puppet characters can be depicted in a much more expressive manner as compared to real actors. Make sure you make use of this extra margin for performance and power of expression. Give each character the kind of reactions that match with his/her personality traits. Name each character according to his/her characteristics to add another layer of creativity and extra margin for performance for the character.

Dedicated To The History & Performance Of Clowning: This is a complete resource on clowning. There's a free tutorial on starting clowning, articles on topics such as the Clown Commandments, dozens of clown skits free for you to use and biographies of famous clowns.
Anything Can Be a Puppet: This brief, but to the point article opens up your mind to all the possibilities you can explore with puppets. Basically, any object can be a puppet, if you play your cards right.

Puppet Flickr Group: Explore high quality photographs of puppets uploaded by puppet professionals and enthusiasts worldwide. Join the community and add your own contributions.

Marionette: From Traditional Manipulation to Robotic Manipulation: Marionettes are string-operated puppets. It is an ancient and universal form of performing art which still evolves slowly today. Follow the link to find out more.

Related Links

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