How can I Learn to be a Puppeteer?
Working with puppets can be a rewarding experience, both as a hobby and as a way to earn a living. For persons interested in learning how to become a puppeteer, there are several ways to achieve that goal. Like many other disciplines, a person looking to become a professional puppeteer may be able to get a degree in the subject from a college or university; others may study under a mentor. Someone who wants to learn puppeteering as a hobby may study books or take a few classes to learn more.
Many people are surprised to learn that a number of schools and universities around the world offer courses of study and even degrees in the discipline of Puppetry Arts. For individuals who are serious about pursuing the craft as a full time occupation, choosing to engage in a comprehensive and structured curriculum that includes information all sorts of aspects of puppetry makes sense. Listings of schools and universities that provide on campus as well as distance learning opportunities of this type can be located online.
Another excellent way to become a puppeteer is to find a mentor or enter into an apprenticeship. Working under the guidance of an experienced puppeteer may help the individual to avoid some of the more common mistakes that can occur when a person is attempting to learn a new skill. Often, the instructor or mentor can provide constructive criticism that will help the fledgling puppeteer hone his or her craft in a short time, rather than requiring years to achieve the same level of expertise.
For people who wish to learn how to be a puppeteer as a hobby, one of the most effective ways is to locate resources that can be used to learn as you go. Books and practice manuals that provide a basic knowledge of the history of puppetry, ideas for creating puppets, set construction, and other elements that are basic to puppetry are available in many bookstores. There are also online courses that can be completed in a few hours that will provide all the rudimentary information that is needed to get started with your new hobby. This will allow the enthusiast to learn the how to be a puppeteer within the confines of other time commitments.
@croydon - I'd love to learn how to make puppets as well as how to operate them. I feel like that is the real way to make a unique show. The puppets would have to be original and offering something new to audiences.
Also, I imagine that unique puppets would be extremely expensive. Even mass produced ones tend to be quite pricey.
@pleonasm - That's aside from the fact that you're essentially learning to act as well, since you're trying to imbue your puppet with emotion and comedic timing, and probably providing the voice for it too (particularly if you want to do live shows).
Puppet theater is still alive and well in a lot of cities and it can be an incredibly good show, even if it is mostly directed towards children. If you are interested in learning techniques I would send an email to established puppeteers and see what they suggest.
But a lot of people seem to just teach themselves how to do this.
Do a lot of research before you decide to commit to this kind of theater. There are many different paths to take and you would need to know quite different things to be different kinds of puppeteer.
Even just watching a Jim Henson movie can show you the range of different kinds of puppets out there, from tiny little finger puppets to puppets that require multiple people to perform.
I've also seen puppet shows that involved strange lighting and different kinds of technology and perspective tricks. And there are also some amazing shadow puppet shows as well.
I'd imagine you'd need to learn different things for each kind of puppet.
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