Peter Pan Puppet Design

December 18, 2009

Behind the Scenes with Peter Pan Puppet Designer Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
Interview by APA Kristyn Hegner

What is the most challenging part of designing puppets for Peter Pan?
The puppets in this production of
Peter Pan are all made from found objects – kitchen gadgets, >ailment gardening tools, beauty supplies, cleaning products, and assorted bits of junk. It’s always a puzzle building puppets this way, looking at a hairbrush and wondering if it can be a hand or a shin or a mohawk or maybe all three. The objects that we used were each made for one purpose and one purpose alone – a watering can was originally meant to water houseplants, not to be someone’s head! As a result there’s a lot of testing out the puppets to see how they move and if they get injured. We have to constantly take them back and forth between the rehearsal stage and the workshop, taking them apart and rebuilding them to meet the actors’ needs until we come up with the puppets that you finally see on stage.

What puppet did you have the most fun creating?
All of them were really fun because each one is different. Slightly and Nibs came first and were built to be lanky and loose and full of bits and pieces of junk.
The Twins and Tootles came next and are stouter, sturdier puppets with fewer elements in their makeup. Somewhere in there came Tink, envisioned as a light-up bug made from plastic bottles and bubble wrap. There are also shadow puppets which are some of the most ancient and universal sorts of puppets that appear in puppet plays all over the world. There’s never a dull moment in puppet making!

How long does it take to create a puppet?
A puppet can be made over the course of one minute, one day,
one week or one year depending on the complexity of its design. My favorite puppets are just flat characters cut out of cardboard, or taking utensils from the kitchen drawer and using them to put on plays. It’s fun to make things like Tinkerbell or the Lost Boys that you see in this production of Peter Pan, but it doesn’t need to be that complicated to achieve the same effect of using everyday object to tell stories.

What made you decide to become a puppet designer?
My love for making these sorts of puppets comes from my passion for recycling. The recycling symbol – the three arrows that point to each other in a triangle – means “Reduce” and “Re-use” as well as “Recycle.” By making puppets out of used bits of junk we’re not just re-using these items, but also reducing the amount of new things that need to manufactured – we don’t have to go to the store and buy things when our recycling bins and basements are full of old things that are just waiting to be given new life! Yesterday an old teapot, a washboard and a garden hose each served a
certain purpose and today they are puppets. It makes me wonder: What will these things become tomorrow?

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