Puppet Origin Stories: Head Gears

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: To Whom It May Concern, 2011

To Whom It May Concern was produced in collaboration with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.

This was the first production that Ang Hui Bin designed and built headgears for independently, having amassed a wealth of experience over the past five years.

This production was a one-woman show, with the actress, Karen Tan playing multiple characters. The quick transition of one character to the next was effectively signaled by the multiple head-gears that Karen would put on to represent each character. However, that also meant that Hui Bin had to make many headgears which were durable and could be quickly worn and removed.

The design concept for this production was decided by Chong Tze Chien, Director and Playwright of the show. His design brief was simple and to the point – everything had to be white, clean and chic. 

To achieve this, Hui Bin experimented with a wide variety of different fabrics. She found that fabric such as lycra exposed design flaws rather easily. It was also tricky to find the right type of adhesive for particular fabric types, due to the difference in porosity, which would lead to the adhesive seeping through some. The adhesive also had to be strong enough to support the actor on stage, and not impede their movement.

Hui Bin also mixed different shades of white to paint the head gears so they did not appear flat. She initially used spray paint on the first prototype of a straw hat (one of the head-gears), resulting in the actor leaving white paint flakes all over the stage during rehearsals.

Maker’s Note: According to Hui Bin, her time in TFP was a crash course on artistry, which was a blessing in disguise. She was working with people who were way more developed in their artistry than she was, and she felt like she was trying to catch up with them most of the time. On hindsight, this was a good way to learn, because she was being exposed to a very high level of artistry within a very short time which only served to excite her and spur her on to do better.

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