Puppet Theatre and the Moving Image? Insights into the research project of the KOBALT Puppet Theatre Lübeck

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Raise the curtain

On 3, 10 and 17 October 2020, the Lübeck Puppet Theatre and the TheaterFigurenMuseum will give insights into their work in the event series POETRY OF THE PUPPET THEATRE. The research project PUPPET&MICROCAMERA will also be on the agenda. But what is actually hidden behind it?

Contents and aims of our project PUPPET & MICROCAMERA

How much filmic perfection can the analogue ‘artificial’ theatre puppet tolerate in digital projections on stage? Is it possible to amalgamate the different perceptual processes of cinematic and puppet theatre images for the audience in an equal way? With puppet play and projection of live camera images onto surfaces, objects, materials, masks, etc., the interdisciplinary ensemble develops categories, practical tips and visions for dramaturgy, aesthetics and future joint productions.

For us, digitalisation means

…here, to examine the triangular relationship between puppet, player and audience together with the dramaturgical integration of the digital mediums; film and projection.

Experiences with the digital technology of film

 “Der Schimmelreiter”, 2011: Nature accompanies the action in still images; the destructive storm surge overlays the stage set as a nature film and suggests the end point of the performance.

 “Rungholt’s Honour”, 2017: drawing in motion – films help explain the action on stage.


The special programme CONFIGURATION enables…

us to examine analogue scenes and film projections in equal interaction. We focused on filmed scenes depicting nature: blossoms, plant structures, leaf and water movements. Is it possible to assign a differentiated, dramatically essential aspect to the representation of nature – as a meaningful picture, a thought, a role or as a partner to the analogue-played theatre puppet?

The magical space of the stage comes alive with precise timing (the audience’s eye reacts much more slowly than in reality) and the possibility of artificial projection: as a picture-detail, moving structure or texture on moving objects, on designed projection surfaces or on translucent layers of fabric. Film projections become part of the stage-set, the stage light and even the sound. Even though they lack substance, physicality and the aura of a handmade puppet, there are no limits to size and detail. Projections are co-players on the stage and have to be given a clear role.

The puppets themselves lend themselves to lavish sculpture and tolerate abstraction of form needing little colour but clear gestures. They assert themselves well in contrast to the projection surrounding them. If the puppets are analogue on stage and at the same time part of the moving digital projection, new dramatic moments arise which can be incorporated. The moving projector and the camera on stage also become actors.

We tested the computer programme “Resolume Arena” with its diverse combination of possibilities utilizing video files, filters and live inputs. For the mapping of projections as a stage design solution we worked with “Lightform”.

We cross-faded films in interaction with puppets, contrasted film projections with the stage action in terms of content, worked with standing and moving cameras, and even with the camera as an animated theatre puppet: with interests, inclinations and humour.

This shift in perspective not only changes our view of puppet theatre, but even changes our views on the use of the camera in film and cinema.

With these new possibilities puppet theatre is able of offer new visual dimensions, insights and contrasts.

Who are we? Who was involved in the Puppet & microcamera project? Website(s):

Mervyn Millar, London, director, Puppet / Set designer www.significantobject.com

Michaela Bartonova, Prague, freelance artist, live design/iPad www.tineola.cz

Thomas Rump, Göttingen, Stage designer www.thomasrump.de

Alexander Hector, Berlin, Filmmaker www.alexanderhector.com

Karsten Wiesel, Hamburg, Filmmaker www.karstenwiesel.de

Ralf Lücke, Berlin, Puppeteer www.rafaelz.de

Silke Technau/Stephan Schlafke/Franziska Technau, Puppeteers www.kobalt-luebeck.de

Vorhang auf für noch mehr Figurentheater


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