I have been involved with Puppet Theater since the 70's in Argentina, i.e. for 50 years, the last 40 of which it has been my profession in Israel and abroad. I am a writer of plays and stories, actress, puppeteer director and teacher.
I can help you, guide you, advice you and direct you on the use of any kind of Puppet, Object or Shadow Theater, traditional or contemporary that you want either on stage with or without actors or dancers or any other performance medium.
For my CV click HERE
If you check the best known Puppet Theater world traditions you will see that the puppeteer has the role of storyteller and animator but is not a character in the play. This co-existence of puppet and puppeteer developed in the XXth century and the different relationships keep evolving. For example in the 80's in France performers turned to every day life objects and a new genre was born: Object Theater. It is totally incorrect to say that Object Theater is: "with objects instead of puppets". It is a whole different story.
I work in Visual Theater. What is Visual Theater?
All theater is visual you will say.
Yes, but there is theater that if you close your eyes you don't get the full meaning of the work. I can close my eyes and a friend reads aloud a show by Shakespeare or Sophocles or Bernard Shaw and I can follow what is going on. But there is a theater you can't follow with closed eyes. It is not based on a written text. It was not born on paper, on a table.
It is born from an image, a poem, an idea, a text....That image, poem, idea or text
( among many other starting points) is then worked on stage to explore how space and time and light and shadows, human or puppet bodies, objects in 2 or 3 dimensions interact to create meaning. That starting point leads to Visual Theater to contrast it to the, in most cases, literature based Actors' Theater.
Whatever you can put down on paper will give a limited impression of what goes in the mind of a reader even if descriptions of what happens on stage are added. This theater in which the words spoken by the performers are not the only carriers of meaning, where acting, scenery, light design, costumes, music etc. do not come after the play has been written, but are created together as a "texture" as Eugenio Barba in his Dictionary of Theater Anthropology likes saying, is what we call Visual Theater.
Does this mean that a written play, that very same play we read by Shaw or Sophocles or Shakespeare can't be staged with puppets or dancers or objects ?
Yes it can be.
What needs to be understood is how each genre of Puppet Theater affects the dramaturgy.
Why hand puppets, string, rods, shadows and objects, body puppets etc. would give different results, how they affect the overall direction the staging of the show. Their design determines the actions on stage.
Many people do not have the experience of having worked (designed, built, performed) with different types of puppets in order to know how and why to choose one or another. Each one has its own potentials and limitations.
And the choice becomes more complicated when these puppets or shadows or objects are meant to be in a relationship with living performers .
Visual Theater starting points ( other than written plays). In all cases the written texts were adapted and changed as needed.
I have used different starting points for my works, here are some examples:
1- Objects ( "Miklajov").
2- Ancient poems and epics ("Gilgamesh", "Amanili Sings", "Hanuman's Jump")
3- Biographies ( "Nekudat Or", "Ian's Daughter", "The Cellist")
4- Scientific discoveries. I have created shows in the Bloomfield Science Museum of Jerusalem based on the lives and inventions of scientists: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Galileo Galilei.
5- Written stories: by Eugene Ionesco( "Aba Taraf Namer") and Heirich von Kleist ( "The Earthquake in Chile"). "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak at the David Yellin College, "King Solomon and the Bee",
6- Literary texts: "On The Theater of the Marionettes" by Kleist.
7- Music: For years I worked with the Jerusalem Symphonic Orchestra as artistic director of the Family Series Concerts.
As you see I have seldom been attracted by an already written play. I like to be inspired and then look for the appropriate visual language which is built by words and images simultaneously.
So what can we do when someone has written a play for actors and suddenly wants to add puppets or shadows or objects? Is this possible? We must meet and analyze the work to find the visual language is needed and how to proceed. We will explore a few variations to make clear the difference of working with different genres. As playwright you must be open and flexible enough to go back to core ideas and where necessary, re-write scenes during rehearsal time as parts of what was written is taken over by the visual language on stage.
We must meet and analyze the work to find the visual language is needed and how to proceed. We will explore a few variations to make clear the difference of working with different genres.
My meetings are in Jerusalem. If I need to travel outside Jerusalem I will give you a global price that includes travel time.
Reading, analysis and discussion: 250 shekels and hour plus maam. Telephone, email, zoom and whatsapp questions and consultations are considered working time however short. They sum up.
If I come up with an idea that you like and want to adopt for your performance there are 2 possibilities:
1- You adopt my idea, however general it is, but continue work on your own, or with directors and artists of your choice: I need to be given just credit for the CONCEPT of the show.
2-You adopt my idea and want me to direct you or build puppets the fee is global, not per hour, and depends on the amount and extent of work needed.
Consider that making a Shadow Puppet ( I only build Shadow Puppets) means working with a storyboard ( absolutely necessary if we are speaking of a whole show to know how many figures are needed, scenery etc.), sketching, arriving at final drawing, transferring it to black paper, cutting out and making articulations. Adding finishing materials and attaching manipulation rods.
Puppets can be with or without color.
Medieval woodcut from wikipedia: De Claris Mulieribus.