Can you make your puppet sit?

In one of the puppet shows we used to do, the prophet Samuel sits on a stool waiting for David to arrive. Thinking about it, he posed the question, “How do I make a puppet sit?” After all, they have no legs and the audience cannot see below the puppet’s waist. So how do you convince the audience that the puppet is sitting on a stool they can’t see and doesn’t exist?

To learn how to do it, it was necessary to study the movements necessary to sit. So let’s think about it.

1. What is the first thing a person does when preparing to sit down? They lean forward and put their hands on the tops of their legs or reach back to put them on the armrests if the meat has them.

2. The next step is to bend your knees to get closer to the seat of the chair.

3. With step 3, they drop onto the seat of the chair.

4. The last step is to lean back in the chair.

If you haven’t already, try sitting down a few times and focusing on each of the four steps listed above. You have probably sat hundreds of times without thinking about the specific movements, but now the goal is to be aware of them in order to transfer them to the puppet.

To make a puppet sit, you make it go through the same four steps. Start by first sitting in a chair with slow, exaggerated movements. As you sit, think about the movements and then try them on the puppet.

1. Bend the puppet forward and down slightly.

2. Drop the puppet about an inch or two only.

3. Move the puppet back an inch or two while letting it drop another inch or two.

4. Stretch your arm.

Practice until you can do the move in one fluid motion with little thought, and then try it out in the theater. Make sure you don’t drop the puppet so low that the audience can’t see it.

By the way, when it’s time for the puppet to leave, make it stand up first by reversing the movements. I once saw a play where the crew did a great job of seating various puppets and I was moved by the quality of the movements. The excitement quickly faded as they left the stage without getting up first. The image of someone walking sitting down ruined the effect.

Making a puppet sit on a chair is a simple movement that only takes a second or two, but you’ll be amazed at the quality it will add to your show. With that in mind, once you add this move to your repertoire, what are some other common moves you can add?

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