In this week’s Puppetry session we continued exploring object theatre, re-purposing everyday objects for storytelling. The prompt we were given was to illustrate each others’ life stories with these objects, and how we were to do that was left for us to decide. What came out of it was some interesting observations on the individual carrying out the story, rather than who the story was about.

As our tutor pointed out, we each had a different way we approached the exercise. I know mine was very diagrammatic, in a sense, as I used my objects to visually supplement what was largely a verbal telling of the story. Others, Jack and Rosy for example, told their stories non-verbally and imparted more dramatisation and acting into their use of the objects.

Something else interesting was the connotations we gave certain objects, or rather, the roles we assigned them to tell the story. Clothes pegs for people, for example, as their small size and the number of them we had, and their two ‘legs’, made them appropriate for that role. However, there were other examples which were less literal but no less logical – Rosy used a group of different sized flower pots to represent members of the same family, and Emma used a Union Jack umbrella as a symbol of my UK upbringing and, as Sean pointed out, acted as kind of ‘shelter’ making it a fitting metaphor for a home.

After this exercise, we watched a show by the first-year animation and puppetry students. It was a puppet show on the theme of light and dark, a little like our introductory project. Here are some disappointingly blurry photos:

Coming mainly from a 2D animation perspective, the main point of interest I took from this show was an observation about timing in the gestures of the mannequin. It was easier to ‘see’ the timing and analyse it, than if I was watching a human perform the same gestures. I think the fact that each movement was visibly a deliberate choice by the puppeteers was what caused this effect.

The specific example I which spurred this thought was in one performance where the puppet picked up a scarf, and ravelled it up in its arms, slowly and thoughtfully at first, and then faster as though it had finished considering the scarf and had changed to being impatient and excited to hold the entire thing. As we read human gestures instinctively without thinking, the level of abstraction present because the gesture was a step removed from an actual human performance made it clearer, in a way.