Puppet Origin Stories: Platform for The Flying Dutchman

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: The Flying Dutchman, 2016

This platform was designed and conceptualized by Daniel Sim after much experimentation with co-designers, Myra Loke and Ang Hui Bin. Aluminium tracks of specific sizes were attached onto a moving platform. By layering the shadow puppet cut-outs on different tracks and moving each cut-out at different speeds, a three-dimensional shadow scenery could be created.

Layering the shadow puppet cut-outs on different tracks

The designers of the shadow cut-outs made indentations into square wooden poles, and inserted the shadow cut-outs into these indents. Due to the speed at which some of the movement had to be done, the cut-outs had to be of a sturdy material to ensure its durability. Thus, the designers further reinforced the shadow cut-outs by cutting them from a mounting board (a much stiffer and heavier material than vanguard sheet or paper), and further stabilized each piece with thin wood strips.

The platform allowed for the depth of the cut-outs to be presented in a more dynamic manner. Puppeteers played with different ratios, sliding shadow cut-outs of varying sizes in and out, to create a three-dimensional effect. Hui Bin was also instrumental in calculating the different ratio and measurements such as the distance between the object and the light, as well as how the structures could come together to form a cohesive image. One limitation of this design however was that it was unable to move front and back.

Playing with depth to create a 3D effect

Due to the volume of cut-outs that had to be created for the purpose of this production, the team opted to laser cut all the pieces. This meant transposing all the drawings onto a software, before sending them to a laser cutting company to cut them out. This was also the first time the team incorporated the use of technology into the creation of their work. The pieces were laser cut from medium-density fibreboard (MDF) which attributed to the strength of the cut-outs.

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