REGISTRATION BEGINS: January 13, 2022 at 12:00pm

One of seven courses available for the May 12 – 15, 2022 MCA Weekend Workshop @ Haystack


Instructor: Libby Marcus
Haystack Studio: Fiber
Enrollment Limit: 12
Materials Fees: $40.00
Level: Beginner

Class Description:

This workshop will explore puppetry from its essential nature as the animation of inanimate objects to shadow, hand, rod, and string puppets. Working in small groups or pairs, participants will create and perform brief, impromptu, found-object, and shadow theater that will open up creative channels and expand conventional notions of the puppetry form. 

Hand, rod, string puppet styles will be demonstrated. Practical instruction in the inexpensive, non-toxic, “green,” and amazingly versatile technique of papier mâché puppet head construction will be used to build one (or more) puppet in the puppet style(s) of choice. In addition, puppet scale (pageantry to matchbox) and the relationship of design to function will be considered. Participants will leave with a minimum of one finished hand, rod, or string puppet, shadow puppets, found object puppetry experience, practical construction know-how, basic materials, and up-to-date resources to encourage and facilitate continued puppet work, as well as an introductory familiarity with the styles and trends of puppetry today. 

Course Objectives-

To provide a supportive, practical framework within which students will 

  • Explore the nature and creative process of puppetry
  • Create and perform original found-object and shadow puppet works
  • Acquire basic practical skills to create a finished hand, rod, or string puppet out of papier mâché, paint, cloth, & other materials
  • Learn about puppet styles and materials
  • Grow awareness of puppetry trends and styles of today 
  • Be able to continue exploring puppetry and puppet making independently with confidence

In addition to learning a few basic techniques of puppet making, this workshop will open up the creative process in surprising, crazy-fun ways.


The instructor will provide all essential materials for each student. Students are encouraged and welcomed to collect and bring materials listed on the optional materials list provided by the instructor for additional working materials from the basic supplies.

Instructor provided materials:

• (2) 2lb. blocks of plasticine modeling clay (students to keep)
• Shadow Puppet Supplies
• Shadow Screen & Light
• Head Sculpting Base (1 per student to keep)
• Clay sculpting tools*
• Papier mâché paste
• White Glue
• Hot Glue & Hot Glue Guns
• Acrylic Paint & Brushes
• Sandpaper
• Sewing Supplies* (Fabric scraps*, needles, scissors, thread, straight pins, notions: ribbons,  buttons, etc*)
• Yarn/Raffia

*If you happen to have and can conveniently bring these materials, please do!

Materials for students to bring:

• Work apron, shirt, or smock
• If you prefer keeping your hands free of glue, paint, and modeling clay, a supply of disposable medical exam gloves in your size

Optional but suggested materials for students to bring:

If you happen to have and can conveniently bring any of the following supplies, please do; otherwise, they will be provided.

• Copies of short excerpts (two to five lines) of one or two favorite poems that are particularly visual/imagistic
• Sewing supplies, fabric pieces, and notions.
• Clay sculpting tools
• Visual references (aka drawings or photos) of any character or characters you might like to adapt into puppet form

About the Instructor-

Libby Marcus has designed and built puppets & masks for Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble, Poets Theater of Maine, The Theater at Monmouth and Bowdoin College in Maine; The Beau Jest Moving Theater, The Nora Theater, Emerson Stage, Chamber Theater Productions and The Boston Museum of Science in Boston; The White River Theater Festival of Vermont; The New England Renaissance Faire (Cape Cod, MA), The George Street Playhouse (NJ), and Second Stage (NYC), among others. She received a 2012 Rose Endowment Fund Grant to adapt Samuel Beckett shorts to the marionette stage.

As an arts educator, Libby has over twenty years of experience teaching drama, puppetry, and mask making to students of all ages from K thru MBA. Teaching credits include theater arts teacher at the Boston Latin School in Boston, MA, where she developed the first theater arts curriculum in the school’s three hundred and fifty year history, teacher training workshops, and numerous arts residencies in schools from Boston to Maine. She has been a leave replacement in the Theater Education program at Boston’s Emerson College and an adjunct lecturer at Bowdoin College. Libby currently teaches at Central Maine Community College and serves as a creativity consultant for first year MBAs at Babson College in Wellesley, MA.

Related work includes three years as a theater site reporter for the National Endowment for the Arts, directing professional and youth theater productions, and participation in several new plays readers panels.

Libby has a B.A. in Theater from Hampshire College, an M.A. in Theater Education from Emerson College, and an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. She is certified to teach performing arts, all ages, by the Massachusetts Department of Education.