We enjoyed the storytelling with puppets workshop by Emily Long. We thank Long for sharing her passion and knowledge with the Story Telling Club members at Singapore American School. Long, an SAS parent, is also a professional storyteller/puppeteer with Adzooks Puppets Singapore. Prior to living in Singapore, she worked as an informal environmental educator for the Chicago Park District, where she was able to use her storytelling skills to teach children about nature. Long began performing puppet shows at an early age alongside her mother and professional puppeteer and mime, Robin Holm (Adzooks Puppets USA). She has volunteered her time in the Creativity Center, leading giant puppet workshops where the students worked collaboratively to design and build puppets from recycled materials. She is also an active member of the Story Telling Club having performed at various SAS events.
In Singapore, she has performed stories and led workshops at the Goodman Arts Center, Eton House International School, and SAS. Long enjoys learning about different cultures as well as using the arts and environment to inspire creativity and imagination in others.
We loved her workshop, where she introduced different kinds of puppets, techniques in operating them, warm-up exercises, and making and playing with a puppet using upcycled materials.
What is puppetry?
Puppetry is to tell a story through an inanimate object. According to Long, every object can tell a story, a tale that the puppeteer wants to tell through that object. Puppetry is an art that involves drama, storytelling, singing, music, and more! In Long’s family, puppetry is a family affair. Everyone gets involved because puppets have that magical power to engage others and to come to life.
What is a puppet?
A puppet is an object that you can breathe life into! Emily Long brought some of her extensive collection of puppets and showed us how to operate them.
Warm up exercises:
Operating puppets require training and coordination skills, therefore Long advised us to practice a few warm-up exercises before we use puppets.
How to animate a puppet?
Long showed us first with bare hands on how to animate a finger or hand-puppet. Remember the 90-degree angle to keep a puppet visible, when you perform on a raised stage.
It was so much fun to try the puppets ourselves. Long challenged us to make the puppets express emotions without words. This exercise was mind-blowing! Participants shared that they felt connected to the puppet when operating it.
How do puppets talk?
When a puppet is talking or expressing something, the puppeteer must put all the attention to it. This is how the puppet comes alive and the voice becomes his/hers. Once you have mastered moving the puppet, you can start to make it talk!
How do you tell stories with puppets?
Long treated us to a storytelling performance so we could see the concepts in action.
A storyteller/puppeteer must alternate between his/her normal voice to narrate the story and the characters’ different voices.
When speaking as the storyteller it’s important to make eye contact with the audience. When speaking as the puppet, the puppeteer must be looking at the puppet. If the puppeteer is operating two puppets at the same time, then the interaction between puppets is essential, and they must be looking at each other.
We noticed how involved Long was when operating the puppets and watched in awe as she gave each, not only different voices, but also different personalities.
These were some of the comments shared after the workshop:
• I will be using puppets every day from now on!
• I got so many ideas!
• It’s such fun. When I’m a puppeteer I just become an “observer” and let the puppet be funny and do all sort of crazy things I wouldn’t do!
• I will never look at a wooden spoon the same way, now that I know I can bring it to life!
We are all so grateful to Emily Long for providing us with such a fun and inspiring workshop.
Do you wish you were there too?
We may have this workshop again. Stay tuned!
You (think!) never told a story before and would like to get started? The Storytelling Club at SAS is the perfect safe space to get started. Join like-minded people from the SAS community, to discover the storyteller within you and have fun in our workshops and meetings.
The Storytelling Club at SAS is organized by Ana Sousa Gavin, SAS parent, professional storyteller, and coach. We meet monthly! Just drop in and find out what we are all about.
- storytelling club