Puppeteer  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotMost people are introduced to puppetry during their childhood, producing their own puppet plays behind a couch or a table counter draped with a bedsheet. The audience? Usually a proud collection of parents.

For some, the fascination of puppetry never leaves. For them, finding work in the field of puppetry is a dream. But it's a long and tough process.

dotThere are many specialties in puppetry, such as shadow puppets and marionettes, also known as string puppets. There's also the related field of ventriloquism.

One of the most famous string puppets is Pinocchio -- the puppet who wanted to become a real boy. That's the goal of every puppeteer -- to make their characters come to life.

dotProfessional puppeteers recommend students become familiar with all aspects of the theater.

"Basically, the puppeteer moves the puppets. But a good puppeteer must have many more qualities," says puppeteer Alain Boisvert.

Boisvert says puppeteers must learn text, even if they're hidden by a screen or under the camera. That requires training as an actor. Puppeteers who work in television may have to read the text on the same day as the shoot, which requires them to play and read simultaneously.

dotIn stage productions, the puppeteer works with different partners and switches from one character to another by changing voice and moving the puppets in different ways.

"One of the most important qualities would be the sense of movement and timing," says Boisvert. "Sense of movement means being able to render the puppet in a credible way for the spectator and [making] the character believable."

At a Glance

Bring characters to life

  • People in the profession say the work is sporadic
  • Salaries in this field vary widely
  • A background in theater is good