Top 10 Things To Work On When Developing Puppet Skills-Part 3

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 5 and 6.

Number 5: Proper Puppet Positioning and Eye Contact
When puppets are talking together, they should face each other, not the audience. I’ve seen entire plays where two or three puppets were talking to each other, but faced the audience the entire time. I can’t think of any recent conversations I’ve had with someone where I didn’t face them or look at them while talking. How do you feel when someone is talking with you, but looking all over the place and not at you? When it happens to me, I want to end the conversation or do something to get their attention. When puppets look at each other when talking, it adds a touch of realism that improves the professionalism of your plays.

There are times when puppets should look at the audience: when they are addressing the audience. You may want to glance at them occasionally to show that you recognize they are there, but your focus should be on the puppet you are talking to. Next time you watch your favorite sitcom, pay attention to their eye contact. How often do they look at the audience? Now, transfer that to your puppet plays.

Number 6: Develop Left and Right Handed Skills
Most puppeteers that I’ve come across use their strong arm for the majority of the plays and only use the weaker arm when asked to. If you’re performing on the left side of the stage using your right arm, it’s difficult to face and make eye contact with the puppets on your right. You either have to twist your puppet in an unnatural manner or face toward the right. If you use your left hand every time you’re on the left side of the theater, you’re puppet will naturally face the others.

If you have a long performance, you can alternate between your right and left arm which will give you more stamina and endurance. Also, there will be times when you need to work two puppets at once. If both arms are developed properly, both puppets will maintain consistent height, posture, lip sync, etc.

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