To your mind, a puppet show is barely more than a simple form of entertainment and education for pre-schoolers and young children. Be informed these little hand-controlled, string-operated and stick-mounted actors have been telling stories for millennia. Likely even before humans discovered the art of acting.
Cultures from every part of the world have used puppets for 4000 years to tell stories, teach lessons and spread messages. Closer to our time, generations of youngsters from the 70s to this day are growing up with ‘Sesame Street’ which continues to adapt and stay relevant. The highly rated Netflix series, ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ introduced a new dimension to puppet-based entertainment for kids and adults alike.
Don’t break a sweat yet for these legendary shows are meant to inspire, not overwhelm the puppeteer in you. You can stage a fully homemade puppet show on a zero budget, a weekend of preparation and good old ingenuity.
Start with a story.
Do you want to entertain your kids or teach them a life skill? Communicate health and hygiene messages to the community? Stage a comedy for the grown-ups? Or produce an entertaining mystery thriller, light romance, heavy literature or political satire. Consider a takeaway for your puppet show for motivation to properly prepare and execute the production. Choose a nursery rhyme, kids’ story or simple homemade tales like these for the little ones, or grasp nuances of writing a script for puppet theatre.
Sign-up the cast.
Operated by hand or strings, or stuck on a wooden skewer, the difficulty level for making a homemade puppet is easy to moderate, but the results are clearly delightful. Sock puppets are the easiest to make and demand little time and resources. Don’t skimp on creating the full cast of characters in your story. If you make an episodic show, you can recast puppets as they are or use them with minor modifications in a new show.
Now, bring them to life.
It’s artistic skills and stagecraft that transform pieces of cloth into characters. Give voice to your puppets. If you do baby talk, mimic people, sing in the bathroom – consider it qualification to voice puppets. Practice the way you hold and move your puppet. Rehearse lines if more than one puppeteer is involved. Organise sound, background music and lighting as you would if staging a play at home.
Give them a stage.
Making a DIY puppet theatre is not as complicated as you might think. A shoe box or cardboard box and a few craft supplies should suffice to build a puppet theatre at home. Here’s the step-by-step guide.
Make them the life of the party.
Give your show context and its stars an opportunity to shine. Add a dose of puppet power to a birthday, anniversary, a weekend gala, festival or celebration you want to make extra special.
Keep them coming back.
Received great feedback from the live audience? Stage a virtual repeat for friends and family. Chose a lengthy epic? Break it down into episodes – make your audience wait and want.