BLind SumMiT
. . . PuPPeTry TiPS



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September 16 - Always move the puppet's head from your wrist not your shoulder (Fiona Clift - puppeteer)

August 16 - The most important part of the puppet is the neck (MD)

July 16 - Always see through the puppet's eyes (MD)

June 16 - Puppetry is a form of acting - relax about it! (Adam C J Klein - actor)

May 16 - Rehearsal is a process of endlessly readjusting (MD)

April 16 - The key to a good shadow puppet is detail (Fiona Clift - puppeteer)

January 16 - When you're being a shadow puppet, pretend you're made of cardboard (MD)



December 15 - When you're making big puppets, make em light! (Oliver Hymans, Puppeteer)

November 15 - If the knee joint buckles backwards, play the pain! (Tom Espiner - Puppeteer)

October 15 - Something has to happen in every scene (Daz Mayhew - Puppet Director)

September 15 - Puppets say what's at the back of your mind (MD)

August 15 - Do everything a month earlier than you think you need to (Stephanie Wickes - Exec Producer)

Follow your nose - a puppet always looks with its nose (Sam Dutton - Puppeteer)

July 15 - You don't make the puppets speak, they make you speak (MD)

June 15 - A puppet is like a lens, so you need to do your performance upside down (MD)

May 15 - Puppetry is scifi in the theatre (MD)

April 15 - Why the character speaks is more important than how the character speaks (MD)

March 15 - Only make necessary movements (MD)

February 15 - We don't really make the puppet alive, the audience makes the puppet alive (MD)

January 15 - Keep the hands still when you're talking and keep quiet whilst the hands are moving (MD)



December 14 - There's a difference between touching and feeling (MD)

November 14 - Make space for chaos (MD)

October 14 - The feet tell a third of the story (Laura Caldow - Performer)

August 14 - When making a puppet try it in action as much as possible (MD)

July 14 - The breath is about state of mind (Fiona - Puppeteer)

June 14 - Tell them what they need to hear, when they need to hear it (FC - company manager tip)

May 14 - A multi-tool will keep you warm at night, long after your partner has left you (FW - tech tip)

April 14 - A puppet is a visual pun (MD)

March 14 - Being 'in character' means to deceive from the heart (MD)

February 14 - Charisma is having fun when you perform (MD)

January 14 - After making a hand gesture keep the hand in the air where the movement ended (MD)



December 13 - Always ask where do the puppets come from? (MD)

November 13 - Creativity requires a collaboration of instinct and experience (MD)

October 13 - Puppet's breath is the actor's twinkle in the eye (MD)

August 13 - Every part of the body has a mind of its own (MD)

July 13 - Watching critically is as important as doing to learn puppetry (MD)

June 13 - Over prepare and be happy to look stupid (MD)

April 13 - The puppet's performance bigger than the puppeteers' (MD)

February 13 - Plot moves horizontally, character is vertical (MD)

January 13 - When applying for roles in theatre don't forget that every job is relevant enough for your CV (SH)



December 12 - Do not lead I may not follow, do not follow I may not lead, walk beside me and be the friend I always need (MD)

November 12 - Always bring a portfolio to a design meeting (MD)

October 12 - Breath is the engine of all emotion (MD)

September 12 - There is a difference between looking and seeing, listening and hearing (MD)

August 12 - Sometimes you just have to do it first, and work out what you did after (MD)

June 12 - Go into battle prepared to die (the Samurai Spirit)

May 12 - think more, feel more, be more (MD)

April 12 - Black reads as invisible, white reads as visible - even on a white background (MD)

March 12 - A puppet is a thing with a joint (MD)

Feb 12 - Movement is the results from three things: gravity, rhythm and character (MD)

Jan 12 - Engage the back when you are puppeting (MD)

Jan 12 - the feet are the puppet’s “tell” (MD)



July 11 - Puppetry is about finding out what reality is, not making stuff up (MD)

In, suspend, out, suspend (MD)

Breath has four parts - you breathe in, short pause, then breathe out, pause. Think of the breathing machines in hospital drama scenes. At rest we take about 12 breaths a minute. Most action occurs on the suspended in-breath, or if you prefer in the controlled exhale: speaking, signalling, starting to walk. The in-breath is literally the inspiration for action, or the intention. The exhale acts as brakes for the movement, and the suspended out-breath is when we assess the action and the results.

When the breath pauses, the action is suspended. The scene pauses, but it does not stop.

June 11 - The most important thing for the head to do is to look at things (MD)

June 11 - Always bend your knees a little and throw yourself into the work (MD)

May 11 - Puppetry is like synaesthesia - it is the ability to feel what you see (MD)

April 11 - Fast, agile, feet and slow, lazy hands (MD)

Feb 11 - Don't glue until the very last minute (NB)

Jan 11 - Be excellent to one another - Bill and Ted



Dec 10 - Gravity is your friend - Get to know her well (MD)

Nov 10 - If you're doing it right it feels like doing nothing at all. (MD)

The most important part of recreating a movement accurately is imagining it in detail (MD)

The beginning of a movement is a response to many things - a thought, a sense, a feeling, music, geography, a desire, gravity, breath and many more (MD)

When cutting out Lycra, use a cutting wheel to give you a crisper edge (BJ)

Prepare for a movement early as possible, do it as late as you dare (MD)

When sculpting puppets, think gravity…. (NB)



When cutting cardboard, change your scalpel regularly (NB)

Sep 09 - Do it badly. Get the Laugh. (MD)

This is about devising and improvising. Improvisations always have a certain magic quality that makes them seem better than they actually are. There is a charge of excitement that comes from genuinely not knowing what will happen next. When you come to repeat it you have to recapture that magic and often you find yourself chasing it down and it keeps getting away from you. Do it badly and see what is left there. If something works when you do it badly then it probably is something - if it needs to be done well to work at all then it may well not be.

Laughter is involuntary and you can rely on it as a marker of truth. It is not the be all and end all, but it is truthful.

Once you know that some thing works when it is done badly you can concentrate on making it better.

Jul 09 - Don’t swap hands on a puppet during a performance – it is like replacing the star with their understudy. (oops - repeat, but very important!) (MD)

Jun 09 - Doing the feet on a Bunraku puppet is like being the one at the bottom of three people standing on each others' shoulders to look over a wall. They are thinking, "What's going on? What can you see...?" (MD)

Each part of the puppet is a "character" and a "role". The feet obviously can see or hear or taste. They get information from two places - from sensory receptors in the feet themselves and from commands from the brain. Sensory receptors in the feet include proprioception (joint position), touch, pain, heat/cold, pressure sensation. These may result in a reflex arc that only goes to the spinal column and back but also send some information up the brain. The brain sends commands to stop the feet doing things and to make them do things. These impulses result from what the brain is sensing from it's own experience. So the feet is bathed in sensations that are coming, sort of second hand, from the scene, mixed with it's own experience, the experience of being between the body and the ground and bearing the load.

May 09 - Money Saving Tip # 1: Always question, haggle and barter. Where there is a bill, there’s a way! - HH

Apr 09 - Always have a slice of cake before starting a rehearsal… - (SA, Performer)

Mar 09 - Don't change hands during a performance: your hands are very different: it would be like bringing on an understudy. (MD)

Even if you are ambidextrous the audience reads the continuity, so think about what you want to say. Contrawise changing hands gives the character a break and allows the audience to relax a bit. Like a character going offstage. Keeping a continuous unchanging hold will build intensity, keeps the character alive, and connects the puppet character to the performers. A particular bugbear of mine is when performers change hands out of convenience - to suit a closer handhold or to untwist their arms. For me the twist in the arms, the contortions in the performers are interesting. They are the result of the narrative and they record a cumulation of the events so far. How they get untangled is part of the story and I want to see it done beautifully. It helps me to understand why the puppeteers go where they go.

In A Dog's Heart we swapped a three man puppet between four puppeteers throughout the performance partly so the audience could see the puppet, but it also supported the idea of a deconstructed narrative. In Butterfly on the other hand we kept the same configuration on the puppet throughout to create a silent character that could hold it's own amidst the intensity of the sung characters.

Jan 09 - Always add a few extra drops of catalyst to your resin in cold weather – it will prevent it from getting tacky. (NB)








Blind Summit Theatre
Unit 10, Grenville Workshops, 2a Grenville Road, London, N19 4EH
020 7272 9020 -