New Victory Arts Break: Puppetry Playlist

When you first think of puppetry, what do you picture? Perhaps you imagine the Muppets of Sesame Street, or a puppet from a performance you’ve seen at the New Victory Theater! In order for these puppets to come to life, a team of expert puppeteers works to manipulate them and fill them with emotion and liveliness. This week on New Victory Arts Break, we’ll explore puppeteering at its most basic, its most technical and its most silly. Ready, puppeteers? Let’s go!

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New Victory Arts Break: Puppetry Playlist

Some of the videos in this Arts Break were filmed at the New Victory Theater. We acknowledge that New Victory resides on the seized homeland of the Lenape people and the intertribal territory of many First Nations. We celebrate and pay deep respect to all Indigenous peoples, past, present and future.

Express Puppet Emotions

Materials: Random household objects

The first step—maybe the most important one—in becoming a puppeteer is understanding how to portray puppet emotion. For this activity you can use any household objects that you’d like! Follow along with New Victory Education’s Siobhan Pellot as she imparts a series of different emotions to a variety of puppets. Notice how different emotions are performed more slowly or quickly!

What happens when two objects feeling different emotions meet each other? Can you puppeteer an emotional puppet interaction?

Create Found Object Puppets

Materials: More household objects, paper, markers, tape

Great work! Once you’ve got the hang of puppet emotions, watch this next video with New Victory Teaching Artist Renata Townsend as she explores the principles of puppetry through found objects. For this activity, you can use the same household object puppets as before or find completely new ones to play with!

Once your puppet can enter and exit with personality, give it a line of dialogue! What does your puppet sound like?

New Victory Teaching Artist Ana Cantorán-Viramontes
Practice creating more voices for your puppet characters with New Victory Teaching Artist Ana Cantorán-Viramontes.

Tell a Shadow Puppet Story

Materials: Cardstock or sturdy paper, dowels or chopsticks for rods, scissors, tape, a flashlight

Another exciting style of puppetry is shadow puppetry! For this next activity, start by crafting one or two shadow puppets out of sturdy paper secured to a dowel or chopstick. Then join Renata as she uses a flashlight to cast her puppets’ shadows onto her bathroom wall and take them on an adventure!

Design a shadow environment for your puppets to visit on their adventure. Can you play with placing small objects in front of the flashlight to create a dramatic shadow set piece?

New Victory Teaching Artist Sam Jay Gold
Delve deeper into set design through light and shadow with with New Victory Teaching Artist Sam Jay Gold.

Materials: A long-sleeve shirt, a pair of shorts, a pair of shoes, a table

For this final activity, we’ll explore ensemble puppetry—puppeteering as a team. Join Veronica and America from the New 42 Youth Corps in the video below as they puppeteer New Victory Teaching Artist Spencer Lott through a number of silly scenarios! Then grab a few friends or family members and transform yourselves into an ensemble puppet like no other.

Take turns being the head puppeteer, and challenge each other to take on more and more complicated tasks. Brush your hair! Make a sandwich! Do a cartwheel!

New Victory Arts Break Supporters

New Victory Arts Break is funded, in part, by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.