Successfully wearing a prosthetic arm - How to Be A Puppeteer [satire]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Successfully wearing a prosthetic arm - How to Be A Puppeteer [satire]; published May 12, 2014, 05:52; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=3029.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571584413, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Successfully wearing a prosthetic arm - How to Be A Puppeteer [satire]}}, month = {May},year = {2014}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=3029}}

Based on basic puppeteer techniques, we can ascertain a number of procedural instructions for prosthetic hand actions inasmuch as theatrical aspects are concerned.


These are:

1. Eye contact

Remember to look into the audience regularly. Using a prosthetic hand may cause you to stare at the hand (or hook or whatever) incessantly.

2. Entrance and exit

Using a fluid motion, the prosthetic is moved forward as it clonks, whizzes, or blinks into everyone's awareness. With each clonk, whizz, blink or bang, the prosthetic devices comes more fully into view. When the prosthetic hand or device leaves the "stage" of present awareness of all attendants, this process is reversed.

The prosthetic user will want to practice in front of a mirror whenever possible to observe his or her techniques.

3. Posture

Good and wherever possible symmetric posture is of key. Thus, any flaws of a prosthetic arm or hand should be mirrored also with the other side as to generate the appearance of fluid symmetry.

4. Hand synchronization

The prosthetic arm, hand or device must be synchronized with the actual action that is demonstrated or even performed (if at all an actual performance of an action is possible). Avoid moving the hand or hook at random during a sequence. Do not open the prosthetic device all the way all the time, but restrict opening to the amount that is required by the actual point in sequence.

5. Hand action

Correct hand or hook action is necessary in good prosthetic arm usage. Practice using the hook or hand.


Source and inspiration for this:

From http://www.angelfire.com/wv/otieandtanya/puppetry.html:



Correct mouth action is necessary in good puppetry. Practice opening the puppet's mouth by moving your thumb downward without moving your fingers upward. (Don't flip your lid!) A slight forward thrust of the fingers may help when first starting out.


Syncronize the opening and closing of the puppet's mouth with the spoken word. Avoid moving the mouth at random during a sentence. Do not open the mouth all the way with each word. Save the wide mouth openings for exaggerated or loud expressions. Do not bite your words or do your impression of a Japanese movie! Move mouth once for each syllable.


Remember to look at the audience regularly. If your stage is elevated, you will want your puppets to look down a little more than usual, rather than over the heads of your audience. This will ensure more effective eye contact. This is achieved by simple adjustments in the bend of the wrist.


If you want your puppet to appear natural, good posture cannot be ignored. To achieve this, the puppeteer's arm must be held at right angles to the floor and the hand kept level. Do not allow puppets to lean from side to side nor lean on the stage.


While there are many ways to enter and exit a puppet, the one we recommend using most often is to make your puppet appear as if he is walking up or down a ramp. This movement uses the whole arm and requires the puppeteer to keep his forearm straight up and down while the wrist remains relaxed. Using a fluid motion, the puppeteer moves forward as he "bounces" the puppet onto the stage. With each "bounce" of the arm, the puppet comes more fully into view. When the puppet leaves the stage, this process is reversed. The beginning puppeteer will want to practice in front of a mirror whenever possible to observe his or her techniques. Holding the fingers immobile with the other hand while working the thumb will accustom the thumb muscles to this new movement. Whenever possible a beginner should use taped performances, fully memorized so that the added distractions of voice work and scripts are eliminated.

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