Puppeteer Tips #3: Focus
In my family we have big (very big) noses: my Slovenian Grandmother Davorinka had a beautiful slavic nose and her Neapolitan husband Achille had an amazing strong Greek one.
Ahh big noses!! They tell stories, they bring character and they are absolutely sexy, in women as in men. I love big, strange and important noses!
And I bet this is one of the reasons why I love puppetry so much: if we only have a look at the old stars of puppetry like Karagiozis, Pulcinella, Kasper and so on we cannot fail to notice that they all have very big noses. And pretty much all puppets that come from the streets have big noses: they needed to be seen to make money.
If you take off the nose from a puppet it is almost not a puppet anymore, right?
But why is the nose so important?
It is very important to have a good visible nose so we can keep the focus on someone or something.
If our puppet has to engage with a person in the audience he will turn towards the person and start to talk. The nose is pointing and the person will know for sure that the puppet is talking to him/her. The person doesn't recognize that the puppet talks to him/her from the eyes: they are not moving, they are painted, almost flat and cannot point. But the nose can.
At the beginning of the my suitcase show "The generous Squirrel" there is a scene where the squirrel follows a couple of oak leaves that are falling down: if I manage to do it right, which means, if I manage to keep the nose of the puppet focused on the falling leaf, it is magic.
It looks like the puppet had his own consciousness and willpower.
And if I move the squirrel's nose with a little delay after every movement of the leaf it turns the act of watching the leaf even more realistic.
You will have to be positioned in a way so you can always see the nose of the puppet to be able to control the movement and transmit this sense of focus.
Try it yourself and let me know!