What Does a Puppeteer Do? Interview With Corina Bona

Today we have a very special guest. Corina Bona, puppeteer, is here to tell us all about her exciting career.

Let’s get started…

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself?

A. I am an originally from Latin America, I grew up in a very travelled family due to my father’s work. I was brought up in Colombia, Mexico, Boston (USA), England, Argentina and Switzerland. I enjoyed this a lot because we learned the history and cultures of all these different places. Plus, it meant learning languages, and adapting. I guess a big part of being a performer comes from that lifestyle.

Q. Have you always been interested in puppetry?

A. I have always been interested in Theatre, storytelling and musicals. This in part lead me to puppetry.

Q. How did you get started? IMG_7073

A. I studied Set & Costume design at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and set off to work in Theatre. Through this I designed puppets in shows like George’s Marvellous Medicine. This got me onto a path of making puppets and having to show companies how they worked when I handed them over.

Q. What type of puppets do you work with?

A. Everything from bare hands, to Glove, Shadow, Rod, Marionette and Object puppetry. It’s such a vast field with so many varieties – that’s another thing I love about it, anything can be a puppet.

Q. Where do you perform with your puppets?

A. I have performed on Streets, in Pubs, in Theatres, in Tents at Festivals, in people’s living rooms for birthdays…

Q. Is it difficult to be a puppeteer?

A. I think the only difficult thing about being a puppeteers is driving yourself and finding all the training you want to get into that type of puppetry.

It’s not common to find schools that are dedicated to teaching it, so you have to venture into finding courses and companies you like and training through them. These days with Facebook it’s easier to find networks for puppetry and to seek out training opportunities.

Q. Are there any tricks you can share to help the kids with being a puppeteer?

A. You simply have to watch the puppet you are holding and make them move as though they are alive. Really believe in how they would be if they were breathing, how old are they, how does this make them move, what are they feeling etc. Think of those emotions and how they make you move – if you’re happy you’re light. if you’re sad you are heavier – put that movement into the puppet. Those are my top tips.

Q. Do your puppets know Elmo?

A. My puppets are very familiar with Elmo and we all think he is a great guy! His great grandfather, Jim Henson, is one of our favourite people in the whole world of puppetry. 

isle of man 3Q. What was it like the first time you stepped onto a stage to perform in front of an audience?

A. It was the most fun I have ever had in all my life and that is why I keep doing it. Having the puppet there to take the attention from me made me feel safe and confident. If anything went south I just put that on the puppet and this made me be able to watch from a distance and learn from those mistakes.

Q. Do you have any advice for a young person about working with puppets?

A. Explore all you possibilities with movement and try showing everyone what you think works; your friends and family will be entertained and love to help you out. It’s always important to have an outside eye.

Q. Anything else you would like to add?

A. Puppets are limitless – they can fly, they can die, they can be total superheros – they can be mean, funny, scary, and cute. Always think about what you can bring out in them and take your time to play with them.

My favourite game to play with a puppet is to introduce them to an object and see what they think it is – how many ways can they find to play with something without saying a word? Movement tells so much of a story before words. 

Thank you, Corina, for sharing your awesome career with us!

What do you think of working with puppets? Leave us a comment and tell us your thoughts.

If you want to see more of Corina’s work, check out her website! 

You can also view Corina’s video on how to make your own bird mask. It’s amazing!

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