Upon arriving at Malovice one of the first things a person does is walk through a barn where Continuo stores a lot of their props including many incredible puppets which they often use in their work. When we asked about puppets Pavlo, the director, said we could certainly work with puppets. The first step in working with puppets is a lot less complicated than one would think…it all began with a giant roll of white paper. We were each given a meter length of white butchers paper and told to crinkle it into a tiny ball. After crunching it into a small section we were instructed to make faces – create simple faces that we would then animate. Once we shared those we were then instructed to crumple the faces and use the paper to create creatures that we could animate. It was incredible to see the array of creatures that were created – all very simple – and all affective as long as we gave them life.
After these steps we got into pairs and created a humanoid puppet by putting our two pieces of paper together and twisting them into a person. We worked together to move this puppet through the space. We were instructed in order to bring the puppet to life we had to experiment on how it walked, how it sat, how it jumped, and how it laid down. The important thing to remember was that it needed to be given a sense of weight and time for each part of the body to move in sequence. Each puppet was unique, built to different specifications – so each needed a special sense of weight and control. It was awesome to see it vary from group to group.
Once we had time to play with these puppets then it was on to constructing a solid puppet out of paper – we used rolls of paper to create each body section – so these style of puppet are connected at the major joints – so it is made up of a series of limbs. One head and neck, a torso, two upper arms, two lower arms with hands, one piece for the hips, two upper legs, and two lower legs with feet. It is very important that the limbs are all the same size. We used packaging tape to connect the limbs together where the joints would be on the puppet. After construction there was a legitimate representation of a human form. This was a puppet that needs two or three people to manipulate – one controlling the torso and one arm, another the other arm and the head, and a third for the legs, which work best when moved from the feet. Together we worked to move these puppets through space, taking the time to explore their motions. In order to keep the puppet alive it is very important that those people working it take the time to explore how a person’s joints move and then mimic that with the puppet. All in all the creation of these puppets taught us a great deal both about manipulation of a humanoid form along with that of really examining details of human movement. These exercises have helped us a lot with our work here.