Puppet Origin Stories: Drum Carousel

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 Drums

This drum gadget was designed and built by Daniel Sim for the Tokyo tour of Drums, an adaptation of Japanese author Yukio Mishima’s Noh play – The Damask Drum. It was written and directed by Chong Tze Chien.

As circular motifs were prevalent throughout the production, Tze Chien wanted the puppetry elements to echo this motif.

Hand-held light in the middle of three rotating lazy susans

Daniel built a shadow puppetry carousel based on the concept of a lazy susan (rotating table).  He used three rotating lazy susans in increasing diameters of 8”, 12” and 18” and attached magnets into eight points of each bracket. Puppeteers would thus be able to attach and detach shadow puppetry cut-outs quickly and easily at the magnets. These three brackets were then built on wooden stands of varying heights. The light source, which was a hand-held light, was placed in the middle of the three brackets, creating a little reverse arena. 

On top of each bracket was a wooden rim which would allow puppeteers to perform quick changes of big landscape scenery cut-outs. To allow the possibility of circumferential scenery, Daniel installed wooden knobs with binding screws embedded on one end, so horizontal landscapes could be pre-set for use along the carousel.

Circumferential scenery

It was essential for touring productions to have cargo that could be packed as compactly as possible. However, due to various constraints, this carousel was not built to be flat-packed, and taking it out and putting it back together again required the specialized skill of the maker, because one mis-step would affect the shape of shadows that were being cast.

The production did not have the budget to fly Daniel over to Tokyo for the show, and transportation of this essential item was therefore cumbersome and bulky.

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