The Top 10 Things To Work On When Developing Puppet Skills -Part 4

The last 2 posts have been about my Top Ten List of things to work on to develop your puppet skills. Today we look at numbers 7 and 8.

Number 7: Develop Motions with One Arm
Puppet arms are designed to hang naturally, so if you don’t use them they still look ok. That allows beginning puppeteers to focus on developing the basics. Once you have the basics down, adding motions helps make your puppet appear even more lifelike, if done properly. The normal tendency when starting to use the arm rods is to go overboard and use them too much or make a motion and leave the arm hanging out for the rest of the play. At that point they become more of a distraction than a help.

The goal in making arm motions is to make the puppet appear lifelike so you can add quality to the play. The key to make that happen is moderation. If you’re constantly using the arms during the play just for effect, it can become a distraction as people focus on your puppet and miss some of the dialogue. But when you use a few pre-planned and well-practiced motions it adds to the quality. The motions reinforce what’s being said and make the puppet appear lifelike. You can still add in a couple of unplanned motions if they will benefit the play, but again, don’t go overboard.

Number 8: Develop Motions with Two Arms
The majority of motions a puppet does are usually done with one hand, such as pointing, scratching the head, or touching the chin; but there are some that require the use of two. For instance, it’s hard to clap your hands using one hand. Two arm motions a puppet can do include: clapping hands, bowing, hugging, blowing kisses, yawning, picking up objects, and raising both arms in the air in excitement. You can do some of these with only one arm and for those motions, it’s good to be able to do them either with one or two arms. It gives you more options and variety in your plays.

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