We are exposed to puppets as children in schools, library programs, museums, toys, dolls, movies, and television. We have all been exposed to puppets from early childhood and continue to be entertained by them as adults.
Early television viewing presented children to:
- The Punch and Judy Show by Rod Burnett
- Kukla, Fran, and Ollie
- Shari Lewis with Lamb Chop
- Howdy Doody created by Buffalo Bob Smith
What is a puppet? It is an object made from wood, paper, cloth, saw dust, straw, cotton, and other materials which can be shaped to represent a person, an animal, or an object.
The puppeteer brings it to life using his fingers, hands, strings, or rods. A puppet is often times referred to as a doll especially when movements are operated by mechanical or electronic gadgets.
Full Body or Full-Costume Puppet:
Sesame Street characters introduced the full body puppet. One of the most popular characters is Big Bird.
A full body puppet is operated by a human being who is covered completely by a character costume. After the actor is in full costume the character may range in height from six feet or taller. These puppets are always bigger and taller than human beings.
The costume is operated by the actor with his own body which allows more movement freedoms for the character. The actor may also work hand and rod devices and wear a wireless microphone for his voice. This same actor or another operator away from the character may work some controls with a remote device.
Do you enjoy performing? Do you have a desire to be an actor? Puppetry is theater and is an art form present in every media outlet.
Most puppeteers are shy. They prefer to be hidden behind the scenes operating with confidence telling a story, while the puppets are exposed and receive attention from the public. Puppeteers have excellent eye and hand coordination abilities as well as timing.
This craft may be learned with on-the-job-training as an apprentice, online courses, local workshops, and more formal training at universities.
What do you need to learn?
- Arts and crafts skills for making props, and other support items
- Writing skills for scripts, story telling, advertising, and marketing
- Business knowledge
- Flexibility to work in television, movies, festivals and events, theater, parties
- Mastering the art of ventriloquism and handling different types of puppets
- Hours of practice to maintain eye and hand coordination and timing
- Puppet construction, operation, storage, and repair maintenance
The craft of puppetry can satisfy creativity and imagination for designing, constructing, and managing man-made replicas of people, animals, or objects to perform amusing feats for entertainment.