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No Strings Attached! Read our new student blog

Updated: Apr 23




We have started a NEW BLOG all about puppet experiences.


PART 1: My Relationship with Puppets Begins... by Christina Bain, Scotland

So, once upon a time, on a day less than one year ago I decided that I wanted to make puppets. Having spent the festive season on the stage with an epic wooden puppet of Greyfriar's Bobby (a famous and beloved Edinburgh pooch) I was fascinated.


I am an Actor/Musician by trade and this was the first time I'd really worked alongside puppets. How did they work? How were they made? Who made them? Could I make them? I began to research. Somewhere in the strange depths of my memory and imagination I thought of rich puppet traditions and images of Prague and the Czech Republic swirled into my mind. So naturally I googled "Puppets in Prague".

 


Holy Moly! I struck gold. I found a summer course that offered the opportunity to not only design, carve, paint and costume a traditional wooden marionette, but also to devise and perform in a show working with a professional director and masters of puppet making. Could this be real? Could I do it with zero carving and puppetry experience?

 

Heck, I may as well try. I want to find out if I love puppets as much as I think I do and this course is just too perfect. One month in Prague completely immersed in the world of puppetry?! Let's do it!... So I apply and am thrilled when Leah emails back saying I'm in! Her message includes everything I need to get started designing my puppet!...

 

Hold on a minute - design a puppet? Drawing is NOT my strong suit. Have I made a terrible mistake? I send off rough (very very very rough) designs to Mirek and Leah. Riddled with self-doubt I think, they're going to say they've made a mistake, that they're not good enough, they can't use them...

 

Nothing of the sort.



Mirek helps me translate my rough sketches into technical drawings and suddenly I can see my future puppet begin to take form. Mirek guides me through all of this via email and zoom. When the day comes to finally go to Prague, to the workshop, to meet the blocks of wood that will become my puppet, I am nervous but unbelievably excited. If Mirek and Leah can guide me through drawing a puppet, from across the sea, while I'm on tour with a play, then they truly can work magic.


In August I arrive in Prague and the workshop is everything I ever dreamed of and more. The walls are littered with puppets of every shape and size. There are tools and toys and paints and fabric, work benches and mini theatres, books on puppetry and puppet making, the workshop is like something out of a Christmas movie. You expect to see Santa and a troop of Elves set to work at the machines.



 

I won't bore you with 10,000 words on just how much fun I had, with every cut I learned to make, every triumph when the wood went from being a simple block to a hand or a boot. It was amazing. Go. Do it. If I can, anybody can. You are thrown into this world of chisels and wood and it can seem daunting but all I can say is - trust in Mirek and the other artists there to help and teach. I couldn't believe how quickly Stanislav (my evil Butler puppet) took shape. Any doubts about this puppetry thing were obliterated. I was (am) hooked.


I was barely home before I had signed up to my next adventure with Puppets in Prague. The Skeleton Marionette online workshop. I could not wait.


Witness the birth of Stanislav


Stanislav with other marionettes made in our August workshop




Coming next: Christina tackles the Skeleton Marionette at home during our online workshop!

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