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MUNGER & ELDER


THE BOOK OF PUPPETS By MARTHA PERRINE MUNGER and ANNIE LEE ELDER Foreword by HELENKA ADAMOWSKA Puppets have entertained people since the days of antiquity. Little hands and large hands, piping voices and deep voices have given life and character the world over to these miniature actors moved by hand. Now two American women have discovered new ways to achieve success with puppets. They have set down those results in this book. The results are not only clever but simple and inexpensive, the very directions which amateurs need to know. The authors have devised a portable stage which may be carried in the family automobile. They have made a composition for character heads which is superior to any other mixture, requires a minimum of material, labor and time, and dries quickly. They have discovered an admirable surface for backgrounds. They have evolved a method of arranging scenery for mid-stage which makes a puppet stage as flexible as a marionette stage. Their manner of casting is fresh and excellent, and they have written six plays, herein included, which have met with continued applause. This book is written for all amateurs — children and young people, mothers, teachers, social workers, and librarians — to make their work with puppets a delight. jo diagrammatic illustrations in blac\-andtvhite by J. B. Van Rossum Shifter.

BERTRAND S L'ACRES OF B 633 MAI CINCINN/


THE BOOK OF PUPPETS


"Now, ladies and gentlemen—


THE

BOOK OF PUPPETS Stage, Scenery, Puppets and Plays BY

MARTHA PERRINE MUNGER

Costumes and Manipulation BY

ANNIE LEE ELDER FOREWORD BY

HELENKA ADAMOWSKA

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

J. B. VAN ROSSUM-SHIFFER

BOSTON

LOTHROP, LEE AND SHEPARD COMPANY 1934


Copyright, 1934, by LOTHROP, LEE AND SHEPARD COMPANY All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in magazine or newspaper. Published December, 1934 Reprinted February, 1935 Reprinted May, 1936

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


FOREWORD For the last decade or so we have been observing a lively revival of the age-old art of the marionette; companies, professional and amateur, have been barn-storming the countryside literally in thousands. Articles on the history and technique of marionettes have filled the pages of various publications, and periodicals and entire volumes have been devoted to their lore. Punchinello—Punch—Guignol—the hand-puppet has been more humble in his claims for limelight. Modestly, he has bowed his jovial way through the centuries, and, because of the simplicity and directness of his appeal, has endeared himself for all time to the heart of his audiences. Being diminutive in stature, his physical projection is more limited in range than that of his stringed brother, and the lack of strings to guide his actions has made him a less complex character for the manipulator. For these reasons, perhaps, he has attracted less public attention than the marionette. It is obvious, however, that the quintessence of all art is simplicity, and the fact that the hand-puppet is less complicated to operate than the stringed one curtails in no way his artistic possibilities, hike the marionette, the modeling of his features •• Vll


FOREWORD can become a work of true art. Papier-mache, stuffed rags or -plastic wood—there is no limit to the experimentation he invites of his creator. The objection that the puppetys lack of feet takes away from his reality is no more logical than the accusation that the strings on a marionette "spoil" the illusion. Neither the handpuppet nor the marionette makes any pretensions at realism, at photographic aping of their fiesh-and-blood counterparts. Their formalized stylistic artistry plays an important part in the universality of their popularity. The very simplicity of the hand-puppet makes him, more than the marionette, accessible as an instrument of expression. Children, grown-ups, schools, churches and the stage find him a faithful servant who rarely disappoints his audiences. He is not as exacting in his requirements as the marionette. There are no strings to avoid tangling, no joints to run the risk of fracture and require re-hinging. He loves to travel and is content to be packed snugly, in his little flannel cover, into any corner of a box or suitcase. Whether he performs at a children's party or on a regular stage, he may be pressed into instant action, his one modest request being a stage of sufficient height to make him visible to his audience. Realizing the immense scope for his activities, and the dearth of simple, practical material on the subject, the authors of the present volume have set down on paper the experiences of several years of unremitting devotion to their hand-puppets. viii


FOREWORD In their admirable simplicity of style, they have emulated their subject, and have made their book, like him, vivid, colorful, arresting. The six plays included in this book are faithful to the original legends which inspired them, and the production tests to which they have been subjected have proved that their audience-appeal is unquestionable. The authors have supplied us with the plays; they have furnished us with explicit directions for the creation of our characters. The animation of them rests with us, for no one in the span of a printed volume can instil into us the spirit of a character. The playwright*s responsibility ends with the written word, the actor's or director's responsibility begins with the spoken one. Although the actor's body plays no part in the puppet play, his obligation to the part he is portraying is no less great. The very conventions of the medium which rob him of any assistance he might secure from pantomimic work, throw a greater burden on his vocal expression. He must be as thoroughly in sympathy with the part, as completely sincere in its interpretation, as if he himself in lieu of the puppet were performing on the stage. He must identify himself with his puppet, and with the character which together they are bringing to life. Otherwise there can be no unity in the performance, no inner conviction which in stage interpretation makes the difference between mechanical banality and true art.

ix


FOREWORD / / is the duty of the playwright to draw on his dramatic imagination to convince his actors, and it is the duty of his actors to draw on their imaginations to convince their audiences of the reality—not the realism—of the puppet. For on the -puppet-stage, not the play, not the actor, but the puppet's the thing. HELENKA ADAMOWSKA

X


CONTENTS PAGE

FOREWORD

vii

INTRODUCTION

xiii

PREPARING THE

T H E STAGE

WHY . STAGE .

THE

. .

. .

3 . .

SCENERY ANDPROPERTIES

MAKING MR.

. . .

. . .

. .

. .

.

. .

.

3 4

.

. 1 0

T H E PUPPETS

16

PUNCH

16

Pafier-Mache

.

ANIMALS BODIES

.

COSTUMES

. .

. . .

M A N I P U L A T I N G F U R T H E R M O D E L E D

STAGING

.

HEADS

. . .

. . .

T H E

HELPS HEADS

.

T .

. . . .

. . .

P U P P E T S OM A K I N G .

A DIFFICULT

.

.

. . . .

.

. . . . .

. . . .

.

P U P P E T S

.

.

PLAY

.

.

.

2 8 3 .

.

PLATES SHOWING CONSTRUCTION O F PUPPETS A N D P U P P E T STAGE A N D STAGING O F PLAYS xi

7 2 0 2 3 2 6

. . .

.

.

1

1 3

1

36 39


CONTENTS BAGS

PLAYS, WITH STAGE DIRECTIONS " T H E T H R E E PIGS"

99

" L I T T L E BLACK SAMBO"

119

" T H E T H R E E BEARS"

137

"LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD"

151

" I T HAPPENED AFTER A L L "

165

" A L I BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES" .

X1J

.

.

.181

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