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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

String Puppets and Other Fun Things

String puppets or marionettes have been popular for centuries. A Puppeteer is the person who hold the strings. They can make them dance, walk, run, bow and move around a stage. Learning how to maneuver the strings takes time and patience. This is a hobby for some, a profession for others. String puppets are not only used on stage. It is sometimes used in movies. Most of the characters in the movie "Labyrinth" were marionettes. Learning how to perform with a puppet as a hobby could lead to a job in special effects or even make you famous. Jim Henson is probably the most famous puppeteer. He created Kermit the Frog and the other Muppets. When the strings are attached, many things can happen depending on what the puppet is meant to do. They could be in the shape of an animal or a person. Usually, the strings are connected to the head, the back hands and just above the knees of a puppet. The strings are secured to a central rod that the puppeteer holds above the puppet. The rod is sometimes called a control bar. It is with the rod that the puppeteer learns to control and move the puppet. Learning to handle marionettes takes time and practice.

Finger puppets are the easiest kind of puppet to play with. You probably know how they work. A simple puppet sits on one or more of your fingers. They are something like the individual fingers of a glove. They might look like people, animals or birds. Finger puppets are particularly popular for small children. Teachers in pre-school and kindergarten often use them for telling stories and then let the kids play with them. Or they might be used to act out scenes from a book. Another type is the hand or glove puppet. Punch and Judy were hand puppets. The size varies from small to large. It may cover just the hand or there maybe a long part that hangs down and covers the arm. It is easy to learn to use this kind of puppet. The ventriloquist puppet is also called a pull-string puppet. This kind of puppet sits on the ventriloquist's lap. The ventriloquist places a hand into the back of the puppet. Inside the opening are strings that cause the puppet's mouth to move. Another string might be used to wave the puppet's hand. Pull string puppets take a little practice, but they're pretty easy to use. Learning ventriloquism is the hard part.

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