I’ve been honing my puppetry skills this week with The Velveteen Rabbit at the Tron Theatre. This is a beautiful children’s story about a toy rabbit who yearns to become real to the child that plays with him.
Based on Margery William’s novel and featuring the talents of Seona McClintock, whose genius idea it was, leading a team consisting of myself, Beth Frieden, Janis Marshall-Reilly and Julie Tsang.
With some exciting use of physical theatre, the puppet rabbit transforms into a real rabbit – a lot of animal study work for me, trying to emulate both a rabbit slightly more real than a puppet, and still have a puppet like movement, even though I’m very much not a puppet!
These lovely photos are all taken by Robin Mitchell. You can find out more about his photography at the link, and if you’re a theatre person, you can hire him to take photos of your show.
The Rabbit himself is animated using rod puppetry, the same kind that’s used in a lot of shows in the West End, and theatres across the UK, from shows such as Avenue Q to The Lion King. It’s something that I simply wasn’t taught at drama school, although it uses similar principles to a lot of movement work that we did thankfully, so it wasn’t too hard to master. I’ve actually really enjoyed working with puppets and I am hopeful after my time at the Tron, I will be able to do more work with puppetry in shows. I’m considering using it in some of the shows I create as well. It’s a very versatile form, allowing you to present magical things in a metaphorical way that naturalism sometimes struggles with.