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Scene changes  (Read 6028 times)
« on: November 03, 2013, 05:49:42 pm »

Hello everyone, I am new to this forum.  I've been looking around and it seems like a very informative place!  I recently began working with hand puppets.  My puppets have paper mache heads and cloth bodies.  I have made a booth and have been working on my first show.  I've actually performed it once, but I wasn't 100% happy with it so I'm trying to perfect it.  My biggest problem right now is that it takes me too long to do scene changes.  I don't have much in the way of sets, it's really just changing puppets on my hands. Is this a skill I'll just need to develop with time?  And/or should I try to do something interesting between scenes?  I saw one puppeteer who would play the harmonica while doing scene changes.  That was neat, but I don't know how to play the harmonica.  How about a kazoo?  Just kidding.  Maybe.  Right now I'm just concerned that I have a lot of "dead air" in between scenes.  I welcome any tips you may have.
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2013, 07:37:12 pm »

I suppose the first question is: how long is "too long"? Have you actually timed the interval during rehearsal (what seems like ages backstage might just be a welcome short break to your audience)?

If it's longer than a minute then you might want to think about suitable interlude music through your sound system. I understand an IPod can now be set up with an activation pedal so you don't need to fumble around whilst changing puppets.

Scene changes can be a part of the performance as well. I wear black cotton gloves (throughout the performance) and these become my "stage hands", moving props on/off stage at the end of scene(s). If it's a comic piece, they can camp it up a bit to get a laugh or three; otherwise, for a serious performance, they go about their business unobtrusively setting up the stage.
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2013, 08:09:39 pm »

Thanks for the suggestions.  They are not super-long but it does feel like an eternity in the moment.  I will look into the ipod thing since I am already using one for music at a couple of points in the show.  I have a remote control for my ipod speakers, but a pedal would be even better.
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2013, 05:51:53 am »

Practice will make changing puppets faster.  Put a metal ring on the bottom back of puppet and hang from a cup hook from stage. Then you can quickly slip your hand into the next puppet that is hanging there. Interlude music always helps or even narration if it fits the show.
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2013, 03:05:39 pm »

I will look into the ipod thing since I am already using one for music at a couple of points in the show.

My sincerest apologies; that should have read an IPad. It's an app costing approx. US$20 and was discussed back in September on the pupcrit List.
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2013, 03:07:38 pm »

Aw, darn, I don't have one of those!  Not yet anyway...
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2013, 08:26:55 pm »

We used to talk while we changed for next scene, you can pretend to drop something or say you have to go find your friend or look for your puppy etc.  They loved it, it builds supense.  If you have a curtain make it move or kick the stage of other things to make sounds like you are searching thru things.  Make it the most exciting part of your show.  We had some little stuffed animals we used for preshow peekaboo times that we could set on the edge of the stage.  They could sit there and announce the next scene with your voice, you can talk while you change puppets.  Younger kids love repetitious routines, they look forward to them, make it a certain thing that you do each show and they will love it.
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2013, 07:50:53 am »

Thanks, Snail!  This particular show that I'm working on is not for kids but I do shows for kids at my job and I think in that setting they would enjoy your suggestions.
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