Puppetry Tech Notes


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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


A lesson in design and practice

revised Winter 2006

(Key Vocabulary in CAPS; glossary at end)

A few hours spent on this project will result in both a usable small puppet theater and an understanding of the parameters for presenting puppetry to a small audience. Refer to sketches 1 -6

Simple XEROX BOX Stage - for tabletop use

1) Get sturdy copy-paper carton with a seperate lid; white if possible Find a spare lid too. (1) Some extra cardboard of the same weight is used for side wings.

2) Reinforce box and lid(s) with wide paper packing tape, particularly at corners and along edges. Use wide white freezer tape if looks matter.

3) Cut a flap in one long side of the box 1/2 way down from the top edge. Leave 2" on each side. Fold this ?ap under to create a PLAYBOARD. Tape and/or glue in place. The main part of the box we'll call the BASE. The 2" side ledges support the INTERNAL WINGS. (2)

4) Cut a large Flap in the top of the lid for a PROSCENIUM opening.

    a. Measure 2" in from each end and cut a slit along one long edge of the fold.

    b. Draw a line parallel to the other long edge 2" in. Now, 2" in from each side, draw lines from the slit       to meet this line. Then cut these.

5) Fold this Flap up in front which almost doubles the height of the proscenium, forming a Pediment. Keep this upright by using two strings with knots in each end run to back edge of the lid, caught there in slits. This flap helps "hide" the operator. (3, 4 &5)

6) Fasten Proscenium to Base. Use big paper fasteners. Reinforce holes.

7)Make EXTERNAL WINGS for proscenium from the extra cardboard. These should be as tall as the Proscenium on the Base combined. Cut from rectangles and fold into two screens with one 4" side. The shorter side that overlaps the edge of the PROSCENIUM and the INTERNAL WINGS is secured using paper fasteners.
(See note* for folding such units to fit in the base for storage.) (4)

7A) Make two INTERNAL WINGS. These fit inside the Proscenium on either side and extend to the back of the Base. The center is cut out. A flap at the bottom rest on the side ledges of the BASE. Paper clip on. (5)

8) Scrim curtain hangs across wings. Use dowel or cheap curtain rod no longer than diagonal of base. Anchor using rubbber bands thru Internal Wing corners.

9) Set on desk or cardtable with cloth. Sit or stand.

10) Use small weights in bottom corner of Base to stabilize. Cans of sand work.

11) Decorate appropriately, especially bottom (it's the front) Add title on top ?ap. Curtains of some sort in the proscenium add theatricality. The extra lid is to protect the bottom(front) when stored.

12) Smaller boxes can become sidestages and become part of Wings.

13)Use a smaller box as a shelf for props or standing puppet support.

Use this theatre for ?nger puppets, small hand puppets, simple rods, or with a piece of vellum, for shadows. With some extra ?ooring, it could even be used for small "Czech" marionettes. Modify the wings to use for toy theatre and decorate the proscenium appropriately/ Show(s) can be kept in the box, along with all parts of theatre for easy storage and transportation.


BASE - the main part of the box, one side cut away.

PLAYBOARD - the ledge in front of the puppets which serves as their stage.

PROSCENIUM - the frame for the show, made from the lid.

WINGS - panels on either side, either behind the Proscenium or beside the Base.

Parts list

Carton w/lid, Packing tape, Big Paper fasteners, Big Paper clips. Extra cardboard(posterboard, etc.), Thin fabric, string, Dowel, slat or curtain rod, Rubber bands, Decorations
*To fold the wings, slit the side which goes againt the proscenium in the middle. Fold the front wing forward at this point. Use four paper fasteners(two on each side of the slit to secure the wings. Reinforce the cut edge with packing tape and then use masking tape over the slit for extra security.

Will Stackman, Master of Motions

posted by will 3:29 PM

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