Sergei Obraztsov is my hero Posted by Chris Arveson on Dec 04, 2012
Most American puppetry these days uses hand in mouth type puppets, including almost everything I have ever done. I always enjoy Na's work with shadow puppets, just because it is quite different than what I am most used to. Along those lines, I am absolutely fascinated with both Hansj├╝rgen Fettig and Sergei Obraztsov. There is so much I would like to know about the materials and construction of their puppets.

There are a number of videos on Youtube of Obraztsov's work, especially "An Unusual Concert." I got a dvd of this performance several years ago and have lost track of the number of times I have watched it.

What I really like about this short cut is that at the 37 second mark, the view briefly cuts away to the puppeteers manipulating the puppets.

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https://youtu.be/YavdyAahQ04

This video is cool because you fully see the puppeteers perform the puppets tango. The puppeteers are dancing, every bit as much as the puppets. That is something I have seen in myself. I may be hiding behind a curtain, but I am fully acting out the actions and facial characteristics that the puppet is supposed to portray. These puppeteers are gracefully dancing, in order to make the puppets dance gracefully.

I also like the way fabric is draped from the puppets wrists to disguise the arm rods that are used to control these puppets.

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https://youtu.be/1N4XBfaNveQ

This is a brief part of Don Juan. The beginning is rather macabre, and quickly turns to the comical when hell's imps appear on the scene.

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https://youtu.be/Ey5I6tL6Nlc

Finally, if you have an hour and a half to spare, the complete "An Unusual Concert."
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https://youtu.be/gf9_v-c1Bd4

I would like to know how Obraztsov can make the mouths move without any apparent mouth lines on the faces. I don't see anything wrinkling as the mouth opens and closes... I just wonder what the faces are made of.

I also wonder how the arms of some of the puppets are manipulated, like the Master of Ceremonies. I can see no trace of arm rods, yet the arms are able to move in a variety of directions. On the Master of Ceremonies I like that there is no attempt made to manipulate his hands, they just dangle and wobble at the end of his arms. Somehow that appeals to me.

Any ideas about the materials that make the mouth able to open without seeing any cut marks or anything like that? How about how the arms are manipulated? Enquiring minds want to know.

Re: Sergei Obraztsov is my hero Posted by Shawn on Dec 04, 2012
Well the mouths look like they are done in a couple of different ways. The announcer looks to be the standard marionette or vent figure mechanism. Essentially two 1/4 balls that rotate back into the head.  The choir is a bit different. Looks to be a lower lip attached to a black flat "plate" that slides up into the head. In one close up you can see a clear line connected to the lower lip that can pull down the lower lip so it appears as if the puppet is talking.

In regards to the arms I can only guess that they are an internal rigging.  Perhaps even a rod running up each side of the body that can be manipulated from below in order to rotate the arm that has a trigger on the end to raise and lower the arm. Think about a rod bent into an L that is held upside down. If you twisted the rod in your fingers it would swing the arm horizontally. If you put a "hinge" at the crook of the L you could collapse and extend that joint as needed to raise and lower the arm.
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