The second instalment of puppetry techniques for story-telling and performance.
2. BREAKING CHARACTER.
The breaking of a puppet’s character is something that must be avoided. You identify the personality of the puppet character by the voice that you create for it. The voice must remain consistent, especially if the puppet is to be a believable character. Try not to change the voice at all during your presentation, apart from changes in pitch to communicate different feelings. If you have to sneeze or cough, make it appear that it is the puppet doing so. You may wish to work such things into the puppet’s voice for realism. On the other hand, the ability to adlib during an unexpected event is a sign of professionalism. Regard your puppet as a real person: that way it is easy to understand how that character would react in certain situations. Keep your puppet’s mouth moving when he/she is supposed to be talking. If you forget a line, think of something to keep it going. If you have kept the character, your listeners will have no idea that some things were unexpected. Once during a school Easter assembly, one of my well-used puppets lost his eye as I was nodding his head. The eye popped right onto the stage and the kids packed up laughing! I quickly worked it into the talk by commenting that I knew he hadn’t been feeling well lately. What I said was “look at you, you poor old thing – you’re falling apart!” None of the impact was lost on the serious message to follow.