Puppet Origin Stories: Cow

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: Enchanted Tales, 2007

The Cow puppet was featured in the 2007 production of Enchanted Tales, and was written and directed by Co-founder Tan Beng Tian. The design brief for all puppet makers in this production was as such: to employ the use of recycled or found materials, to stick to a recommended height, and to create a puppet that could be manipulated by just one puppeteer. The maker of this puppet was Oliver Chong, who chose to take a risk by using scrap wood. This was because there was an abundance of scrap wood in the workshop, and he could therefore have greater control over the design with this raw material. Even though he knew it might be too heavy, it was a risk he was willing to take, as he was the puppeteer for this puppet.

Production photo from Enchanted Tales, 2007

Because of this, Oliver build the puppet according to the way he wanted to manipulate it. However, according to the script this puppet had to be mobile on the floor, which meant that it could not be a rod puppet, which Oliver preferred. Rod puppets are typically operated from behind the puppet. They offer the puppeteer more immediate control and are more grounded compared to string puppets. Eventually, Oliver settled on a hybrid between a rod and a string puppet.

From his experience as a graphic designer, Oliver had become skilled at clarifying his design ideas. He knew he wanted the Cow to appear trustworthy and cute, with a rounded design. He scoured through Getty images for image inspirations, as he knew that Google would give him a random smattering of images that was more often than not, search engine optimized.

Champion this puppet and its story today by making a donation HERE.