Puppet Theatre

Naomi Holcombe
Thursday, October 22, 2020

The COVID-19 lockdown has produced some serious challenges for drama teachers. We have had to re-think our teaching methods and schemes in light of online learning or socially distanced work settings, but reflecting on this truly bizarre period of education, I'm sure it has made us all more inventive and more playful with what we were teaching, as we have had to think around the norms of performance work and try new things. I wanted to make work more relevant to modern theatre practices, and, more importantly, to make it fun and so I hope you enjoy this puppetry scheme of work and find it does just that. We all need a bit more fun in our lives given what has been happening and if this scheme can bring a little more playfulness into our classrooms, in whatever form they are shaping up to be, then that can only be a good thing. This scheme of work looks at puppet theatre in many forms. It will help students think about how to engage an audience in a different way and open their eyes to the wonderful and mesmerising world of puppet theatre in professional work. Puppets are not just for children or something you enjoyed when you were small. They can be engaging, beautiful and mesmerising all at the same time. Although I initially wrote this scheme in lockdown and taught it to my students via live online lessons, I have now adapted the scheme with the hope that you will be able to teach it in real life, face to face, in an actual classroom, studio or theatre. But if this is not possible, I will tell you from experience that you can absolutely manage it all online if you must. Initially your students will be using extracts of text, aiming their work at a particular audience in order for them to understand what a successful, but small-scale piece of puppet theatre can look like. They will learn how to develop not only their script writing skills and their puppet construction, but also to develop more extended pieces of work for themselves and find their own style and audience for their work. Aimed at Year 7–9 students, this scheme will introduce students to Theatre in Education, as well as looking at puppet theatre companies and the work that is created in professional theatre. Puppetry might also be an excellent form and style for GCSE pieces in the future, so if you teach this to your Year 9 groups, they then could draw upon these methods when they start devising work of their own for exam pieces in the future. Learning objectives Students will gain the following knowledge/skills after the six 1-hour lessons: - Different interpretations of what a puppet is - How to build/make their own puppet and/or puppet theatre - Developing or adapting existing books/stories or starting to write their own scripts - Tone/atmosphere - Genre/style - An introduction to different forms of theatre such as Theatre in Education for their final project. Assessment An assessment grid is provided in the Resources that accompany this scheme for the making, developing and performance of the final puppet theatre project. Resources provided with this scheme - Links to video examples of puppet theatre - Links to ‘How to’ videos on building/making your own puppet - TiE PowerPoint presentation and puppet theatre project outline - Assessment grid for the final puppet theatre project.