Puppets for Health: A Creative Intervention

This is a Marionette or String Puppet. I made her two summers ago. At the moment she is not part of a show but rather, I use her for ‘walk-abouts’. This is when I take her to people with an ‘invitation’ to interact in some way. These pictures show one of the lounges at Vida Hall. After seeing my Theatre for One show, a man expressed interest about the making of puppets and how he had once designed a Marionette. As I am interested in how to extend interventions and communication, I told him that I would bring my String Puppet to show him. I found the man in the lounge sitting with his wife (also a resident). He is looking at how I am operating and is interested in the technical elements. This is how he has chosen to relate to the Puppet.

On the other hand, his wife is meeting the character of the puppet. She is suspending disbelief of the obvious strings to meet her. She readily holds her hand out to greet the puppet and speak to her. Notice the hands of the woman next to her becoming more available to be greeted. This suggests that she is waiting for her turn, for the moment when she and the puppet has a unique meeting. At this point no-one is looking at me although I am clearly much larger than the puppet. But who is taking up the largest space?

I then went on to have a conversation with the male resident about how I made the puppet, the wood, joints, movement. He then offered genuine ideas for adaptions to help me move her differently.

This is an example of the principles of a Person-Centred Approach being demonstrated through Art. I am ‘inviting’ people to relate to the Puppet on their terms and I will respond appropriately.

Theresa McNally, Creative Practice Manager