Most 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.
There 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.
Professional 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.
In stage productions, the puppeteer works with different partners and switches
from one character to another by changing voice and moving the puppets in
"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."