Puppet head design research


Image result for theatre puppet

Image result for theatre puppet

Pictures from Bread and puppet theatre Performing Faust 3


These faces are similar to my designs in that it is a mask that covers a large portion of the body, however I want to move away from the grotesque or scary.

picture from Bread & Puppet museum in Glover VT


I love this design, the many faces within the bigger face lend its self well to my surrealist concept.

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photo from Bread & Puppet museum in Glover VT


I love these puppets simple designs, I have found my designs with the over sized mouth to be too scary looking. the puppet with the moving mouth in this photo has a normal proportion mouth to face and has helped me visualise how a smaller mouth may be appropriate.

Photos from Bread & Puppet performance at Theater for the New City


I like these tall designs I imagine they have good movement and can be very comical something im aiming to capture. But are they still masks?

All of these puppets so far as I can tell are made from paper mache, which would potentially be unsuitable for an outdoor event on the grand scale I intend. Foam sheets instead? plastazote?

Surreal face paintings by Eustaquio Carrasco


Image result for grinning man trippy


Clip from The Astronomer’s Dream (French: Le Reve D’un Astronome, original title: La lune à un mètre a.k.a. The Moon at One Meter) (Star Film Catalogue no. 160-162) is an 1898 French short black-and-white silent film, directed by Georges Méliès.

I really love this silent film. The face of the moon is menacing but comical, not scary which is a perfect balance. I also am drawn to this because it is silent, my dissertation research led me to Edward Gordon Craig who believed masks and body movements could replace speech to help communicate with the audience. The masked performer in my performance would remain silent as well.


Bread and puppet theatre summer apprenticeship application

In 2020 we will be offering 2 apprenticeship sessions.

1.A 6 week apprenticeship from June 23th through August 4th 

2. A 3 week apprenticeship from July 28th through August 18th

Its in America so i would either need to save up or apply for funding for this opportunity.



Research for my own surrealist inspired film

ENTR’ACTE | René Clair (1924)

In this shot many layers of the original film overlap then move apart, this is a simple effect that i may be able to acheive and use in my own video.

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video of eyes moving could be overlayed with a paintbrush going back and forth for TV video dream sequence.

perspective change with overlaid video:

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mirror shot:

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make people or objects disappear:

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Man Ray: The Starfish (1928)

scenes shot through a mirror play with perspectives.

film through tubes and shapes to make interesting effects:

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Un Chien Andalou is a 1929 Franco-Spanish silent surrealist short film by Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí.

“The screenplay of the film “Andalusian Dog” is based on two dreams of its creators Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. Buñuel told Dalí at a restaurant one day about a dream in which a cloud sliced the moon in half “like a razor blade slicing through an eye”. Dalí responded that he had dreamed about a hand crawling with ants. Excitedly, Buñuel declared: “There’s the film, let’s go and make it.” They were fascinated by what the psyche could create, and decided to write a script based on the concept of suppressed human emotions….

According to Bunuel, they adhered to a simple rule: “Do not dwell on what required purely rational, psychological or cultural explanations. Open the way to the irrational. It was accepted only that which struck us, regardless of the meaning….

Buñuel made clear throughout his writings that, between Dalí and himself, the only rule for the writing of the script was: “No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted.” He also stated: “Nothing, in the film, symbolizes anything. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis.”

In his 1939 autobiography Buñuel said: “In the film the aesthetics of Surrealism are combined to some of Freud‘s discoveries. The film was totally in keeping with the basic principle of the school, which defined Surrealism as ‘Psychic Automatism’, unconscious, capable of returning to the mind its true functions, beyond any form of control by reason, morality or aesthetics.” ”


I find this particular work of Dalis interesting and inspiring as it brings all the concepts of his work into a performance style. In my dissertation I have been commenting on how masks are a tool for transformation and communication, in this section from my dissertation I explain how masks have a surreal quality that can be likened to bringing the surreal aspect of dreams to the real world.

Theatrum Mundi is clearly present in Plato’s Allegory of the cave where he philosophizes that true reality is created by God and the world humans experience through their senses is merely shadowy illusions of true reality. In this analogy God is the playwright and director, we are the audience and life is the performance we are witness to. Plato believed all forms of art that are created are imitations of our illusion of reality and that art in every sense is a form of mimicry.  (Encyclopedia Britannica 2011) If we apply Plato’s theory of shadows to theatre, then we can interpret a mask as being like the shadows that deceive and blind us to true reality. If theatre is impersonating an illusion of reality then masks can be seen to hide the truth further. On the other hand, Allardyce states “religiously,  philosophically and aesthetically the mask consecrates the effacement  of immediate reality for the benefit of a master reality’.” (Allardyce 1963) From her perspective masks aren’t fully lie or deception, nor are they a normal truth. Instead they point to a surreal truth. Surreal truth is like the truth we find in dreams. Our dreams tell us something about our deepest feelings and philosophical interpretations. Masks give us a similar truth that the images in dreams do, therefore allowing us to explore our inner selves further.

In Dali and Bunuel’s film they are using abstract imagery of dreams to create an engaging film that explores the vastness of the human unconsciousness. What Dali has touched upon here, the ability to explore the unconsciousness through our dreams, is something that interests me a lot.

I propose to use ‘Psychic Automatism’ and inspiration from my dreams to help explore my own unconsciousness and in turn help define my inner self further. I also would like to make a surrealist inspired film to accompany my series of masks for my exhibition. The aim of this video will not be to film the entire performance, more to help the viewer understand the context of the work and replicate the feeling the performance may evoke.



Edward Gordon Craig

Edward Gordon Craig was a key figure in the New Stagecraft movement, he published a artistic theatrical journal called the mask that explained his theories, here is a video series that explains more about him and his life.

I have focussed on Craigs use of masks in the theatre but he was also an advocate and visionary for puppetry on the stage.

He was also the inventor of the role of director in the stage, as well as his innovative invention of screens as representational scenery rather than realistic representations. he was also the first to use steps on stage and light the back of the stage to change scenes. He also used chalk dust and large beams of slanting lighting.

I refered to Craigs work and theories alot in my dissertation via a review of his work by  Irène Eynat-Confino called Beyond the Mask: Gordon Craig, Movement, and the Actor. 


Here are some key quotes that defined his work and have inspired mine:

“Simply that Craig definitely wanted to avoid the use of mimetic elements and cliches,  and this made his task almost impossible. transparent simplicity in a universal, symbolic pattern of movement”  pg 80

“The mask was an essential tool for the symbolic acting that Craig proposed.  he considered it “ the only right medium of portraying the expressions of the soul as shown through the expressions of the face.”  besides, the mask was a proper means for reducing expression and thereby intensifying it. as a director,  he had already used masks in his London Productions and was aware of their dramatic immediacy.  Furthermore, he missed trusted man’s innate mimetic tendency, and the mask was one means by which the director’s control on expressive movement could be enhanced.  but the mask is also so closely related to to Craig’s conception of the ideal heart of the theatre as ceremony in praise of creation and linked to the restoration of Belief to the world.  it’s ritualistic, sacred origin and the dualism of life and death embodied in it make it a symbolic means par excellence.” pg 80

The mask is, however,  a deceptive vehicle: it enhances illusion while it destroys it,  and by doing so it enforces the symbolic aspect of the performance;  in other words, the mask is both the cover and the sign of empirical reality.  it is part of the aesthetic game,  while it is also a constant aside to the audience,  an essential factor for distancing. for the actor, The Mask is the sign of the identity of the other,  designed to prevent him from impersonation or identification;  on the other hand, it may also provide for him the proper cover under which he does merge  himself with the character.  one effect is certain:  the mask calls attention to the expressivity  of body movement, endowing it with a salience not possible otherwise.  this is why a different body training is needed for the actor ( the coordination of the body movement with the mobility of the head and the spirit of the Mask), along with a psychological state of Readiness,  of acceptance of the other self imposed and emphasized by The Mask – a state that may lead the actor either to identification or to distancing. Craig did not propose such a training; furthermore, he suggested using not one but several masks for one character during the performance.” pg 80

Below is a section from My chapter on the masks in theatre from my dissertation where I discuss his work and analyze the text:

Edward Gordon-Craig was a fundamental theorist in perpetuating the New Stagecraft movement that enabled theatre to move away from realism. Playwrights aimed to encompass all the arts within theatre, including “Folk celebrations, festivals, circuses, and puppet shows” (Smith 1984) to create a new form of theatre called Total theatre. In this new form of theatre, influences were taken from the often ritualistic or symbolic aesthetics of these folk aspects of masking and disguise. The concept for this was to utilise the mask as a form of visual communication, bringing to the stage, and allowing the modern audience to experience the theatre through the original esoteric uses of the mask. By using masks and other signifiers the actor is able to unconsciously affect the audience, communicating deep levels of abstract meaning through movement and imagery rather than relying on large sections of speech and dialogue. (Smith 1984) He was also an enthusiastic advocate for returning the mask to mainstream theatre. In the early years of the 20th century, he aimed to create new innovative modes of theatre. By harnessing a new form of symbolic movement through the use of masks, he aimed to create a simple and universal form of communication with his audiences.  He believed the mask to be the tool to help him reinvent theatre and to stay away from clichés and classic mimetic elements that traditional theatre embodies. (Eynat-Confino 1987)  He considered the mask to be “the only right medium of portraying the expressions of the soul as shown through the expressions of the face.”  […] the mask was a proper means for reducing expression and thereby intensifying it.” (Eynat-Confino 1987) It’s clear he believed that by donning a mask the actor would use their body movements to compensate for a lack of facial expression as stated by Eynat-confino when he says “the mask calls attention to the expressivity of body movement, endowing it with a salience not possible otherwise.” (Eynat-Confino 1987) He wished to depersonalise the actor and utilise the intrinsic ability of the mask to transform an actor into what he called “the übermarionette (“super-marionette”)” (Grahame Rea 2019) Thereby removing the normal dramatic constraints from the actor and applying a new set of rules for them to use to help them connect with their audiences, on what he thought would be a more all encompassing format. In this respect the mask was a way to let the true intentions and meanings of the director be expressed without using a realistic context. In the postwar era of the 1920’s The New Stagecraft movement aimed to move away from realism, embracing avant garde design and surrealism in its place. (Grahame Rea 2019)  The advantage of this was that not all audiences could relate to all naturalistic contexts as their understanding of the message would always come from a subjective view. Smith backs this up by saying “The naturalistic stage is limited to the particular whereas the experimental stage addresses itself to larger issues in larger, more general images.” (Smith 1984) She postulates here that characters in all productions are not singular personalities they are merely representing different versions of people and archetypal norms. Therefore, by communicating with audiences through broader imagery and abstract messages, the meaning becomes accessible to all. It is therefore arguable that although the mask conceals the actor’s identity and depersonalises them, in doing so the actor can more easily convey the message of his director to all audiences. Therefore it could be argued that the mask allows for the widespread objective understanding of the director’s true intentions and in turn their underlying identity. “

Total theatre brought influences from the ritualistic or symbolic aesthetics of these folk aspects of masking and disguise to the stage. I propose with this project to use all of these themes Gordon Craig used but bring the style back to the modern day descendants of these folk traditions. I want to utilise the mask for my performance in the same way he proposed by using the body to convey meaning rather than using speech. 

Cirque Du Sole application

For my first professional practice application I have applied as a Cirque Du Soul ambassador. Their roles range from earning commission on tickets or online advertising to decor and build work for their events. The past two years I have performed at their festival in the summer with different performances and so I wanted to apply to their club events in the hope that I could get some paid work before the summer. The previous performances have been zero commission but we got about 12 festival tickets comped per performance. My hope is that by applying for work with an events company I already have some experience with, will advertise me as an asset to their events. Hopefully if I manage to get some paid work before their festival this summer our walkabout act might be eligible for funding.


Professional practice seminar reflection

We have just finished the second professional practice seminar, the first focused on places to access live briefs. Ingrid showed us different websites that we can use to search for different opportunities. For example:

  1. STEP Beyond travel grants – http://www.culturalfoundation.eu/grants – artquest.org.uk
  2. Bloomberg New Contemporaries.2020 – http://www.newcontemporaries.org.uk/submissions
  3. Artist newsletter provides contracts and public liability insurance as well as legal support network with subscription – a-n.co.uk -bad art presents : Trash (10th march)
  4. open call: projects open, project_002:puppet
  5. resartis.org-artistresidencies
  6. creative cardiff – website
  7. Eistedddfod – deadline 14th feb
  8. local arts officer both regional and county council – contact these people for arts funding and potential help setting events up etc.

I will be using these to help me find 3 or more live briefs to apply for by the 11th February.

The second session has focused on how we have used our dissertation research to help inform or inspire our own practice. I have been particularly inspired by my dissertation and will be using the theories and manifestos of Edward Gordon Craig and his contribution to the New Stagecraft movement in the early years of the 20th century to inspire my next project. He reinvented theatre embracing abstract imagery and surrealist themes in place of naturalism as a form of universal communication with his audiences. He did all this primarily through the mask as a theatrical tool. He also aimed to bring the traditional esoteric and carnivalesque uses of the mask to conventional theatre which is a key theme my work embraces. This ability of the mask to remove our primary form of communication (facial expression and speech) and still allow the wearer to convey any message is fascinating and exhilarating when you consider the possibilities this tool holds within. This concept that his work is centred around is the defining characteristic that spiked my interest in masks in the first place. Now I have learnt of a movement that has already explored these ideas I can see a clearer path as to where my own practice belongs within the world.

This was a key aim of the seminar, to help contextualize our work, and find which professional context our work fits into. Jon gave us some areas to look into as well:

  1. craft council
  2. The art story – browse for surrealist movement for research and context

He also wanted us to find ideal companies that our work fits into and use them as starting points of contextualising our work.

we focused as well on key words that describe our practice. One that spiked my interest was speculative design, making art that poses questions rather than solving problems. I thought this would be a good basis for my next project concerning surrealist themes.