How to use two rod arms in a puppet show Posted by Jungle joe on Sep 30, 2013
Using two rod arms at a time in a puppet show makes your shows more professional and gives your puppets new life, this is not difficult to learn. All it takes is a lot of practice and commitment, which means you will end up spending some extra hours practicing, but the results will certainly be worth the time and effort. Today I would walk you through some of the steps of two rod arms manipulation at a time.

  • Hold the puppet in front of you below stage level, and tipped slightly forward so the rods hang freely.
  • Cross the rods so they form an X near the bottom of the rods and slide the pinky finger of your left hand into the bottom of the X.
  • Wrap your pinky and ring finger around the rods and press them toward the palm of your hand. This gives stability and helps hold the rods in place.
  • Use the thumb of your left hand to work the left rod and your index finger to work the right rod. By squeezing your thumb and index finger together, you make the puppet clap its hands. When you release the thumb and finger and push up a bit with your pinky finger, the arms will spread apart.
  • With practice you can have a puppet clap along during a song or help give a rousing round of applause for someone.
  • Along with clapping its hands, you can lift both hands to the puppet’s mouth to have the puppet yell out. Raise the hands to the puppets mouth and move them forward and back, forward and back, and you can have the puppet blow kisses.
  • If you have a small, lightweight box sitting on the corner of the theater, with practice you can have the puppet pick it up and move it. When you practice it enough, it’s fun to have that puppet hand it to another and have them carry it off.
  • It takes a lot of practice, but gives a bit of a “wow” factor to your presentation. Using two rods at once is another effective tool that adds quality and variety to your programs; just make sure you don’t overdo it.
  • Too many two-arm motions can detract from the performance instead of enhancing it. Moderation is the key.
  • Puppets arms are designed to hang naturally, so you can perform without using the arm rods and it will look fine. Using a few arm gestures does add to the presentation as long as you don’t overdo it.
  • While you’re in the beginning stage of using one rod at a time, it’s a good idea to attach both rods to your puppet. People don’t usually limit movement to just one arm. They may point with their left hand and then use their right to scratch an itch.
  • Set the puppet up with both rods attached. During the play, have him make a motion with one arm. Grab the rod, make the motion, and then drop the rod back down. Then after a brief amount of time, make a motion with the other arm.
  • When doing the play, don’t just go back and forth. If the puppet is going to make four motions, have him use the left one for the first motion, the right one for the next two motions, and the left one for the last motion. That gives a more random appearance which makes the puppet look more lifelike.
  • Also, be careful not to overdo the number of motions. It’s better to do a few planned motions than a bunch of random ones just to have the puppet move the arms. Too many motions can be worse than none at all.
  • When doing motions, be careful that you don’t hold the puppet’s arm outstretched for a long period of time. It is best to lift the rod, make the movement, and drop the rod back down.

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