Tabletop Puppetry: Craft Time!

January 19th, 2012 by

A few months ago, we made beautiful (if we do say so ourselves) sandscapes based on The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The crafty instructions came to us from our friends at The New Victory Theater in New York, which puts on AWESOME shows for the whole family. Recently, they staged another show based on a children’s book: Miss Ophelia, based on Ophelia’s Shadow Theatre by Michael Ende. And this time we invited them to share their own craft gallery! Here’s the scoop from Mara Richards over at the New Vic…

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of introducing Miss Ophelia to our New York audiences. The magical story of a sweet old lady and her shadowy sidekicks was brought to life through lively storytelling and puppetry — and you and your family can make a tabletop puppetry set like the one in the show!

You can re-create a street in your neighborhood or create one from your imaginations. The set is easy to make and can be made with household items. The New Victory Education Department made one of our neighborhood on 42nd Street. Take a look the photos of our creation and follow the instructions below to make your own tabletop set!

Before beginning: You and your family should collect different sized cardboard boxes like the ones that cereal, instant oatmeal, or toothpaste come in. You’ll also need paper to cover the boxes (we used brown paper), scissors, markers, and either masking tape or glue. You’ll also need a table or other large area to lay out your set.

To create the buildings for your neighborhood, begin by covering each of the boxes with the paper. We wrapped ours like you would a gift. If you want your tabletop set to be similar to the one used in Miss Ophelia, you’ll want to use the same color of paper for all of the boxes. You can either glue the paper into place or use masking tape (which is easier to use but less durable).

After covering the boxes, you can either use different colors of construction paper to cut out and paste things like windows and lettering on signs OR you can use markers to draw those details in. If you want your set to be like the one in the show, you should use black markers to draw in the details.

When you’ve finished decorating the boxes, create the street for your neighborhood by placing a large sheet of paper (or several small sheets) on a table or other flat area. Be sure to draw in the details of the street like the center lines and lane dividers.

Finally, arrange the buildings you made on either side of the street, and voila!

After making your tabletop set, you can draw and cut out two-dimensional puppet characters like the ones used in Miss Ophelia to play with on the set. Cardboard or thick cardstock work best for these puppets. Then you and your family can use your puppets to make up a story. Have fun and share your stories with us in the comments!

— Mara, Kidsmomo Guest Blogger

Mara Richards is the Education Manager for Curriculum and Resources at The New Victory Theater. Mara oversees educator resources and creates the School Tool resource guides. She holds a BFA in Drama (NYU), an MA in Performance Studies (NYU), and an MS in Educational Theatre (CCNY) and is a certified Theatre teacher with Initial Certification in Theatre for grades Pre K-12. Before returning to grad school in 2008 for Educational Theatre, Mara worked in arts fundraising for 8 years.

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