tips needed on new performance Posted by momtso on Jun 09, 2016
Greetings fellow puppeteers!

So me and the wife have a small puppet company here in Greece and we are planning on staging Pinocchio next year targeted at kindergarten and primary school children, (roughly ages 4-12). Pinocchio will be a puppet, obviously, but Gepeto as well as the 3 villains (the puppeteer, the guy who turns children into donkeys and the guy who runs the circus) will be masks. Now I have two questions for you, any help would be most appreciated!

1. How can we ensure that the villains will not be too scary? We’ve run into this problem in the past, as we are mostly working with big puppets, so any tips will be more than welcome. I’m not talking that much about building the character (although feel free to share your wisdom on that area, too) as much as aesthetics. When is a mask or a puppet scary for a child from your experience? What characteristics should be avoided? What enhanced? I understand that one trick could be to make them comical, but I repeat, I am more concerned in appearance at this stage and not character.

2. The second question also concerns aesthetics, in a more general manner. How can we ensure the homogeneity of aesthetics? I mean how can we avoid the feeling that every character seems made in different style? Gepeto is almost done, it was made during a mask-making seminar and as time is very limited we cannot afford to make another one, so we will have to adjust the others to this mask. Does it suffice to have all characters have one similar characteristic (pointed eyes, fluffy hair etc) or similar colors, or should it go deeper than that? I tried to find a way to upload a pic of the mask for you to see but couldn’t, can we only upload URLs?

Thanks in advance!
Re: tips needed on new performance Posted by momtso on Jun 10, 2016
Re: tips needed on new performance Posted by Shawn on Jun 13, 2016
Some times it takes a bit of time for something to get and answer around her.

Aesthetic wise I would say you need to make them with the same materials and methods.  So if you used foam and fabric for the first then continue with that or if you used paper mache' continue with that. I don't think they need to have a similar characteristic but they do need to be the same style. So if you made Gepeto in a cartoon style continue with that or if he is very realistic continue with that. Paint color may help tie them together but it is more again about the style of painting. An Andy Warhol next to a Leonardo da Vinci painting is obvious they are from different painters but put another painting from either genre and the average person may not be able to tell who painted what. Not the best analogy but I think you get what I am saying.

In regards to you villains when it comes to construction really I don't know there is too much you can do. I would stay away from extremes like glowing eyes or bared teeth.  I've worked in masked characters before even close up one on one with audiences and they have been anywhere from realistic to cartoon and really it is more in how you approach and carry yourself. Granted there are always going to be some that are fearful but you can't really avoid that. I think since these characters are going to be on stage you should be fine. It might help some to prepare your audience before the show.  So explaining to them that the show has masked characters. You might even carry a pre-made mask from the store of a character they would know that you could show them then place over you face... "See it is just me in a mask!".

Our forum is very old school.  None of the fancy stuff like you see at other sites.  Here you can upload an image to the Gallery and then when you are in the posting there is a small camera icon that allows you to choose that image from your Gallery to insert into the post.
Re: tips needed on new performance Posted by Chris Arveson on Jun 13, 2016
One possibility to reduce the scare factor might be to give at least one of the characters a "wicked" grin. Still kind of scary, but not menacing.
Re: tips needed on new performance Posted by Gail on Jul 18, 2016
The children who get scared are usually younger than 4 years old in my experience.  2 and under could scream at anything because it is new to them.  I like the idea of talking to them ahead of time to break the ice, watch their reaction and you will know how to far you can push it.  Just knowing that there is a person making that puppet move helps them be less afraid.  We liked to break the ice by peek a boo little puppets before the show. Do you play peek a boo with babies in Greece?

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