DIY puppet theatre

This project consisted in building a puppet theatre. We aimed for a colourful theatre that was modular and versatile enough to give the puppeteer plenty of freedom.

MDF sheets cut for a home-made puppet theatre

We cut three pieces of MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) for the front and sides of the theatre. The sides simply slide into the four slots at the corners of the front piece. The small round holes at the top of the sides will support a horizontal pole for a curtain. A horizontal strip of MDF will slide into the small slots at the top of the sides and will be used to hang a backdrop. The opening just under the stage is levelled with the eyes of the puppeteer sat on a small stool. The opening at the bottom will be closed by a door sliding vertically. That and the two round doors above allow to perform in several configurations and to add variety to the show.

The inside of the theatre. The black bathroom towel rolled up at the top, once unfolded, will make a backdrop at the back of the stage. We used a red towel cut in two to make the curtain. A system of strings allows the puppeteer to open or close the curtain by pulling on the two pairs of rings hanging at the sides. The horizontal strip of MDF supports the scenery (a tent on this picture). The second horizontal strip does not go all the way from side to side but stops near the middle of the stage; that allows puppets to move around the prop that it supports (here we can make the puppets hide behind a bush). The blue mesh taped over the opening allows the puppeteer to monitor the reactions of the audience without being seen.

the inside of a home-made puppet theatre
home-made puppet theatre with red curtain and comdy and tragedy masks

We decorated the theatre with comedy and tragedy masks and put a golden frame around the stage. Objects can be placed on the golden ledge.

The black towel has been unfolded to make the backdrop. The set consists of a castle in the background and woods in the foreground. The puppets can enter the stage from the sides or from behind the woods.

Slapstick comedy. In this story, Frog wants to enjoy a quiet sleep in his tent but various characters successively appear playing noisy instruments (here Hen with a tambourine). Frog then creeps out of his tent and, from behind the bush, whacks the intruders round the head.

The round doors worked well with sock-typed puppets. Strings allow to shut the doors from inside the theatre at the end of the show. The lamp clamped to the top of the theatre acts as a spotlight and creates a great atmosphere at night.

home-made puppet theatre with red curtain and comdy and tragedy masks
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