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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Marionette Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 3, 4, 5

Been pretty swamped with work the entire February. That should get better in March. If it isn’t so, I shall make it so. Now, onto the puppet stuff…

In week 3, we went over some theater basics. The upstage, downstage, stage left, stage right, opening stance, cheating out, entering, exiting stuff is nothing new to me, since I’ve done my share of theater. This is with a twist, though. Since it’s with puppets, you want to take both the puppet and the puppeteer into consideration. Of course, the puppet is the main star. It should enter first and exit last. The puppeteers should do their best to get out of the way. We also went over some exercises with eye focus and breath, two very important things to bring puppets to life no matter which kind of puppets you are working with.

In week 4, we did more exercises combining walking (one of the most difficult thing to get right with marionettes, apparently) and looking at each other (eye focus). It’s one thing when we are looking at the puppet; it’s another when two puppets are actually looking at (and interacting with) each other. That’s when I felt like the puppets have come to life!

Each week, we also have homework, which is a short choreography. This time, in addition to taking turns doing it in front of the class, we were also divided into two groups of three to perform the choreography in sync. Our group went first. It was fun to figure out how to do things in sync with others. It was actually even more fun to watch the other group. At first, they were rehearsing it facing the mirror and away from the audience. When they turned around to give the “performance”, I actually felt quite giddy. For some reason, though our group had just done the same choreography and I have just watched the other group rehearse in the mirror, I was so excited when they turned around to present the choreography. I was thinking “Yay! We are going to watch a puppet show!” And somehow seeing three puppets do the same choreography made me feel like they are so alive. I think it’s because one, it’s as if the puppets decided to join one another and do this dance together, and two, they were doing the same dance, but each with their own quirk, unlike robots. The performance, though far from perfect, reminded me of how magical puppetry can be.

In week 5, we did the good old puppet walks across the stage, puppet takes a look at the bench, and puppet sits down exercise. I’ve taken a one-day workshop before, where we pretty much took turns doing exactly that. It’s tricky. Walking is always tricky, more so if you want to make turns and hit exact marks. Turning to look at something and sitting can be tricky too, if you are trying to do the motions in precise manners. Nevertheless, it was a lot of do-overs but also a lot of fun.

Got to find more time to practice. And, yes, I will definitely show you guys some videos when I find time to shoot them. :-)


  1. March 5th, 2013 | 6:35 am

    I’m always amazed at how much work is to learn to give life to a puppet! Then again, when on stage, it is amazing how puppets are so alive and I have to remind myself that they are artificial creations and are not real, living creatures.

    Yes, I’ll be waiting for some videos! :)

    Alien Ghost recently posted..Aspie World 3 – CommunicationMy Profile

  2. March 5th, 2013 | 2:17 pm

    Don’t remind yourself of that. Just believe! :-)
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Marionette Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 3, 4, 5My Profile

  3. March 6th, 2013 | 11:03 am

    Marionettes seem like they’d so difficult with all those strings to deal with. It must be fun for you to work with these types of puppets.

    I loved how you shared your excitement with the other group did their choreography, even though you’d watched the practice and done the same thing. It goes to show how magical you still find the puppets. It helps to really enjoy what you’re learning.

    I will look forward to the videos, but understand the “time” issue. I’m just glad you give us updates when you can. I really enjoy reading about these workshops — it’s something I know so little about, but admire the gift of making puppets come alive.
    Sara recently posted..Funny FridayMy Profile

  4. March 7th, 2013 | 1:20 am

    Yep, it’s a lot of different things to pay attention to. Fortunately, there’s method in all the madness. Though there can be quite a few strings, they are all tied to control bars, so you can essentially pull a bunch of different strings at the same time as long as you learned how.

    Sometimes, I simply find it to be a lot of pleasure to watch someone really good at it demonstrate things, even if I don’t end up learning the tricks.
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Marionette Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 3, 4, 5My Profile

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