Puppets & Marionettes. Part 2

As young and not-so-young lovers of the program will know, Puppetry is a big feature of Speekee – and not by chance.

In this second of a short series of posts about Puppetry, we look at some of the many different types of puppet…

A puppet is an inanimate object or representational figure animated or manipulated by an entertainer, who is called a puppeteer. It is used in puppetry, a play or a presentation that is a very ancient form of theatre.

There are many different varieties of puppets, and they are made of a wide range of materials, depending on their form and intended use. They can be extremely complex or very simple in their construction.

Black Light Puppet

The Black Light Puppet is a form of puppetry where the puppets are operated on a stage lit only with ultraviolet lighting, which both hides the puppeteer and accentuates the colours of the puppet.

Blacklight Puppetry

Bunraku Puppet

The Bunraku Puppets are a type of wood-carved puppet originally made to stand out through torch illumination. They were developed in Japan over a thousand years ago.

Carnival or Body Puppet

Carnival Puppets (AKA Body Puppets) are usually designed to be part of a large spectacle. These are often used in parades and demonstrations, and are at least the size of a human and often much larger.

Finger Puppet

The Finger puppet is an extremely simple puppet variant which fits onto a single finger. Finger puppets normally have no moving parts, and consist primarily of a hollow cylinder shape to cover the finger.


The sock puppet is a puppet formed from a sock and operated by inserting ones hand inside the sock. One then moves his hand up and down to give the impression of speaking. Sometimes eyes and other factors are added to the sock in order to make the puppet more realistic.

Hand Puppet

The Hand Puppet (AKA Glove Puppet) are puppets controlled by one hand which occupies the interior of the puppet. The Punch and Judy puppets are familiar examples of hand puppets.

Human-Arm Puppet

Also called a “Two-Man Muppet” or a “Live-Hand Puppet”, the Human-Arm Puppet it is similar to a hand puppet but is larger and often requires two puppeteers. One puppeteer places a hand inside the puppet’s head and operates its head and mouth while putting their other arm into a glove and special sleeve attached to the puppet (the right arm if they are left handed and left arm if they are right handed). The second puppeteer puts their arm into the glove and special sleeve attached to the puppet in order to operate the other puppet’s arms.

Light Curtain Puppet

The Light Curtain Puppet presentations use specifically focused light to highlight small areas of a performance, allowing the puppet to be seen while the manipulators remain invisible. The puppets stand on a stage divided into an unlit background and a well-lit foreground, meeting to form a “curtain” of light.


The Marotte is a simplified rod puppet that is just a head and/or body on a stick.

Pull String puppet

A Pull String puppet is a puppet consisting of a cloth body into which the puppeteer puts his/her arm into a slot in the back and pulls rings on strings that do certain tasks such as waving or moving the mouth.

Push Puppet

A Push Puppet consists of a segmented character on a base which is kept under tension until the button on the bottom is pressed. The puppet wiggles, slumps and then collapses, and is usually used as a novelty toy.

Toy Theatre

The Toy Theatre is a puppet cut out of paper and stuck onto card. It is fixed at its base to a stick and operated by pushing it in from the side of the puppet theatre.

Rod Puppet

A Rod Puppet is a puppet constructed around a central rod secured to the head. A large glove covers the rod and is attached to the neck of the puppet.

Photograph:Rod puppets have rods, or sticks, that allow the puppeteer to move the puppet's arms and sometimes its legs.


Supermarionation is a method invented by Gerry Anderson which assisted in his television series Thunderbirds in electronically moving the mouths of marionettes to allow for lip-synchronised speech. The marionettes were still controlled by human manipulators with strings.


A Ticklebug is a type of hand puppet created from a human hand to have four legs, where the puppet features are drawn on the hand itself.

Shadow Puppet

A shadow puppet is a cut-out figure held between a source of light and a translucent screen. Shadow puppets can form solid silhouettes or be decorated with various amounts of cut-out details.

The Ventriloquist’s Dummy

The Ventriloquist’s Dummy is a puppet operated by a ventriloquist performer to focus the audience’s attention from the performer’s activities and heighten the illusions. They are called dummies because they do not speak on their own. The ventriloquist’s dummy is controlled by the one hand of the ventriloquist.

Water Puppet

A Water Puppet is a Vietnamese puppet form, and in that language means “puppets that dance on water”, an ancient tradition that dates back to the 10th century. The puppets are built out of wood and the shows are performed in a waist-deep pool.

Table Top Puppet

A Table Top Puppet is a puppet usually operated by rod or direct contact from behind, on a surface similar to a table top (hence the name).

Object Puppet

Object Puppets can be created with everyday objects either assembled in advance or during performance.

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