During the last four months, I have had the pleasure of teaching with Eastern Michigan University Bright Futures 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
I have been teaching puppetry classes at a handful of the program's sites, ranging from 2nd grade to 8th grade students.
My class was titled "Puppetry 101."
The class was essentially a survey of many different puppetry styles, learning about and designing/performing a new technique every-other week. While we created many, many puppets throughout the four months and were very creative - we focused mainly on developing teamwork and collaborating together in order to bring a puppet character to life and develop performances.
The Puppetry techniques we covered were;
• Paper Bag Puppets
• Hand Puppets
• Rod Puppets
From the Bright Futures Website;
"EMU’s 21CCLC Bright Futures are high quality after school programs.
The weekend before Muppets Most Wanted was released in theaters, I held a drop-in video puppetry class at the Plymouth Community Arts Council. Participants would build their own 'Muppet Style' puppet and then learn basic monitor-performance technique. It was loads of fun - all ages were welcome and many new characters were created and skill learned.
For expediency I pre-cut and pre-sewed pattern pieces in four colors of fur (blue, pink, grey & purple) as well as pre-cut the mouth plate elements. Participants would then assemble the basic puppet, stuff arms and then decorate their puppet with eyes, hair and feathers.
Performance wise, we started learning lip-synch and eye focus with practice eyes (ping-pong balls glued to an elastic band) learning right & left on the monitor (everything is backwards) and then once we had our characters we lip-synched and danced to 30 second snippets of songs.
From the Plymouth Observer & Eccentric 09/04/2013
Written by Matt Jachman
Observer Website: http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20130905/NEWS15/309050096/Arts-movement-Campers-show-off-summer-projects-Plymouth
More Info - www.PlymouthArts.com
Sign-up via phone or in person
Office Hours: Monday - Thursday 9 AM - 4 PM • (734) 416-4278
Ages 10 and up
4 Saturday's 9/21 - 10/12 10 AM - 12
How can an inanimate object come to life before your very eyes? This class offers students experimentation in the many styles of puppetry with an emphasis on how each technique translates into effective characters and story lines. Puppetry is a great medium for the live theatre artist because it combines all aspects of the craft - design, construction, performance and technical arts. It has been a part of theatre since theatre began. No previous puppetry experience necessary
Ages 10 and up
4 Saturday's 10/19 - 11/9 10 AM - 12
In this class we will animate drawings, paper cut outs, clay, wire frame characters and anything else we can get our hands onto. Bringing the inanimate object to life via frame by frame animation. Stop-motion is the animation technique used in such films as; “Wallace & Gromit,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “ParaNorman.” A Great way to amaze your family and create fantastic films! No previous puppetry or animation experience necessary.
Ages 10 and up
4 Saturday's 11/16 - 12/14 10 AM - 12
Utilizing the familiar overhead projectors from classrooms and other light sources, this class will create worlds and images of spectacle in a puppetry technique that has not changed for over 2,000 years, but has still amazed and excited audiences. This class in an exploration and experimentation in storytelling through shadow manipulation. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
Ages 10 and up
4 Saturday's 1/11 - 2/1 10 AM - 12
This class covers performance techniques when manipulating large, multi-puppeteer puppets. Known as "Bunraku," students will learn how to manipulate every aspect of their characters as well as gaining leadership and team working skills. Each puppet usually has three or more performers manipulating a section of the character. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
This summer I'm teaching two Puppetry classes at the Plymouth Arts Council in Plymouth, Michigan.
Intended for ages 10 and up - students can register over the phone or in person at the arts council.
June 24 - 28 // 9 am - 12 pm
How can an inanimate object come to life before your very eyes? This class offers students experimentation in the many styles of puppetry with an emphasis on how technique translates to effective characters and storylines. Puppetry is a great medium for the live theatre artist because it combines all aspects of the craft, - design, construction, performance and technical arts – it has been a part of theatre since theatre began. Class is limited to 10 students. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
August 12 - 18 // 9 am - 12 pm
This workshop will cover performance techniques when manipulating tabletop puppets – which are articulated 20” figures performed by up to three performers on a single puppet. This technique is also known as “Bunraku” and “Czech Black” style. Students will learn how to manipulate every aspect of their characters in this exciting puppetry technique. Class is limited to 10 students. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
If you're interested in hosting a class or workshop like these, feel free to contact me.
A few weeks ago I received a lovely package from a group of students to whom I gave a puppetry presentation to. Loads of hand made cards with messages of Thanks and interest as well as drawings of characters I brought with me and their own puppet designs. The presentation that I gave was about the many different styles of puppetry starting with simple shadow puppets, progressing to hand puppets, then animatronics and finally digital puppetry. Video examples of work as well as hands on demonstrations with student volunteers. So much fun. Below are just a few of the many, many cards that I received and that I am immensely Thankful for in return.
I am teaching a class titled, "Puppetry 101" at the Plymouth Community Arts Council in Plymouth, Michigan. The class will take place once a week, starting Saturday, October 22nd and ending Saturday, December 8th.
Class Description: How can an inanimate object come to life before your very eyes? This class offers students experimentation in the many styles of puppetry with an emphasis on how technique translates to effective characters and storylines. Puppetry is a great medium for the live theatre artist because it combines all aspects of the craft, - design, construction, performance and technical arts – it has been a part of theatre since theatre began. Class is limited to 10 students. No previous puppetry experience necessary.
The National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center is a very important place where new works of puppetry is created. The conference is for everyone, from seasoned professionals to beginners, both looking to explore and learn.
This year (2012) I was on staff, assisting Martin P. Robinson teach a class in "Puppet Exploration."
** Description of the class from the Martin P. Robinson/the O'Neill website;
The Puppeteers Touch... The Objects Profundity
We Puppeteers know the magic that happens when a performer picks up or puts on a puppet of some kind and starts moving it in space before an audience. Too often, I feel, we rely on this novelty aspect of puppetry to carry the day. We don't buckle down to do our homework, to know our instrument in an intimate way so as to let the character and story shine through. Would any musician with only a passing knowledge of their instrument (or even a fairly good knowledge) attempt a concert for a paid audience? ...Puppeteers do this ALL the time.
I propose a week of experimentation in many styles of puppetry with an emphasis on exactly how well-thought-out technique translates to effective characters and storylines... a respect for the objects and a respect for the audience. I would like participants with some performing experience...applications will be reviewed with this in mind. Mostly, of course...all admonishing and profundity aside; I just want to have a blast with some cool people for a week...
- Martin P. Robinson
** Below is a video with Artistic Director Pam Arciero
In the video at the 0:11 mark, is footage of my project "s'Muther," which I workshopped as a participant project at the O'Neill in 2010.
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