Puppet Origin Stories: The Leaf

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 POOP!, 2009, 2010, 2017 and Little Mournings (2021)

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.

Production Image of Little Mournings

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.

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

In 2020, The Finger Players collaborated with Youth Infinity to reimagine selected stories from TFP’s Puppet Origin Stories. These youths were invited to write a creative response to a story, which TFP responded to through a short film. As in-person programmes were cancelled during the Circuit Breaker, TFP sought to engage with communities in a different way. We hope these short films serve as a reminder of this meaningful collaboration.

Based on the origin story of Leaf, the following mini short film is a literary response by BL, 17, from Youth Infinity (a service by AMKFSC Community Service). 

Championed by:

Xie Shangbin