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.
The leaf was an object puppet that was featured in POOP! and Little Mournings. This leaf object puppet was created by Ang Hui Bin in 2009, who was then Resident Artist of The Finger Players (TFP). The nature of POOP! was as such – using puppetry and very controlled / specific pockets of lighting zones on the stage, objects would be seen flying across the stage. The puppeteer was not able to manipulate the leaf directly as the Director did not want the audience to see the puppeteer. Thus, Hui Bin had to find a way to create an extension for the leaf that would keep the puppeteer out of the lit areas but also give the puppeteer enough control to mimic the spontaneous movement of a leaf moving in the wind.
The easy part was going to the florist to look for a realistic looking leaf that was big enough for the purpose of the show. Next, Hui Bin experimented with different extension materials – wood, metal, plastic, etc., before eventually settling on a metal rod that gave the puppeteer a good balance of control and organic movements. Finally, as the puppeteer of this object puppet, Hui Bin had to keep practicing in order to make the leaf appear as if it was being tossed around by the wind.
While the mechanism behind the leaf puppet was very simple, for Hui Bin it encapsulated the essence of puppetry – that in order to bring to life an inanimate object, and to design and build an effective puppet, the puppeteer and puppet designer / maker needed to find the balance between controlled and organic movements.
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