Puppet Origin Stories: Angel

by fingerplayers

In 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, we spoke to the Makers and Designers of the puppets we have in The Finger Players (TFP), to create the repository that is the Puppet Origin Stories – a humble effort to highlight the background, and the making and design history of these puppets. We hope that this can be a continued endeavour at TFP, and we hope that you can go on this journey with us.

Featured in Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! – The Sequel, 2008

Angel was created by The Finger Players (TFP) Co-Founder Ong Kian Sin in 2003, during a 10-day Puppets in Prague marionette making workshop conducted by Mirek Trejtnar.

Before flying over to Prague for the workshop, all participants had to fax their drawings over for the lead instructor, Mirek. Together with his assistant Zdar Sorm, they would help to cut out wooden blocks according to the measurements on the design.

Angel was initially created as a monk marionette. Kian Sin had never really encountered wood as a material, and he wanted a puppet that could dance, meditate, walk, have hand gestures, and most importantly, a puppet that could represent the Asian sentiment.

During the workshop in Prague, Kian Sin was introduced to many different possibilities when building a marionette, one of which was the spinning mechanism. It was also the easiest to create because it had the least strings. All participants at the workshop had to do a presentation at the end of it, and for the Monk marionette Kian Sin had decided on a journey as such – the monk would meditate, then while chanting he would “attain nirvana” and then he could fly. This was to Kian Sin, a zen approach that he appreciated.

When the Monk puppet was brought back to Singapore, it was used during devising for the production of Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! – The Sequel. But due to religious connotations, the team decided to change it to an Angel puppet instead, as the concept of an Angel was more all-encompassing. So Kian Sin removed the costume (a monk’s robe), added the anatomy and a pair of small wings. In Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! – The Sequel, Tan Wan Sze’s character was a lady who was abused by her partner. As she weeps over her predicament, the Angel puppet appeared from behind her, offered her a handkerchief to wipe her tears, and spun around to cheer her up.

In the production of Smaller Than Life, 2003

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