Believable Actions and Interactions
Again, I stress, if it is intentional and fits into the script as a viable action, then it is not wrong, but if done out of character or unintentionally, it is not professional and needs to be worked on.
This is the last of the five basics, but ties all of the others into one cohesive professional performance. Actions need to look real. If they seem out of place for the situation or it looks as if the puppeteer is just trying to move for the sake of moving, etc. then it adds subconscious confusion to the audience. They wonder in the back of their mind as to why the puppet is doing what he or she is doing, thus taking their attention away from the content.
One such unbelievable action is the zombie stare. There are two ways that I have seen this mistake commonly done. One is when a puppet is supposed to be interacting with another puppet or character on stage, but the entire time rarely or never looks at the other member, but instead, keeps their gaze on the audience at all times. The other way that I have seen this done is when one puppet is injecting something and the entire time the other puppet appears to be frozen, giving no response at all to what is being said or done as if one puppeteer is operating both puppets and can only concentrate on the actions of one at a time.
Other examples of this are common as well, but these are the two most common. The, all time, best zombie stare that I have ever seen though, still has to be the time when there was one puppeteer operating two puppets to a recorded audio. He couldn’t keep it straight as to which puppet was supposed to be doing the speaking, so he only had one doing most of the lines while the other just set there. He might as well have held up a stick in place of that puppet.
Many audience members may not notice little things like this specifically, but subconsciously they catch it and it doesn’t allow them the ability to fully set back and enjoy the full performance because they are unconsciously focusing on the little idiosyncrasies of the performance.
With a professionally realistic performance, the audience’s attention is on the message in the skit and not the puppet’s movements.
Practice Makes Perfect...Ummm, Professional
Practice is the key. Practice, practice and more practice. With this you will find that many of these things become second nature. When I am teaching and I try to show someone an example of biting words, it is really hard for me to do because I naturally don’t do it now, so I have to make myself mess up and it is still hard for me to do at the time I am doing it.
If you haven’t read the previous posts on the other basics or watched the training videos over each of the basics, I recommend going back and doing it now. This will only help you and don’t forget to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.