Just like there are different kinds of puppets, there are different kinds of puppet stages. This article talks about 6 different types of puppet stages.
One church we ministered at had formed chicken wire in the shape of a tree which they covered with papier-mâché to give it a textured look. The tree had several large knotholes for puppets to appear in and also had a large branch that puppets could come up behind. This was a permanent stage, and was well done.
Use a tight fitting curtain rod or pipe with rubber stoppers at the ends in a doorway. (An adjustable tension curtain rod works well for this.) You can place a blanket or sheet over the rod once it is in place or thread a curtain on the rod before putting it up. One nice advantage in this type of theater is you can easily adjust it to the height of your puppeteer.
There are a couple of disadvantages to this type of stage, though. You are limited by the size of the doorway. If it is a standard 36″ door, you might squeeze two puppeteers in, but it will be tight. Another disadvantage is that the door might not be in a good place in the room and you may need to add a plain colored piece of material behind it to block out what’s in the next room. Also, if it is the only entrance to the room, it could cause problems if someone wanted to get in or needed to get out of the room during the play.
Strong Cardboard Box
This works for a temporary theater but isn’t durable enough for a permanent one unless you have a good supply and can replace pieces as needed. We used this as an extension of our normal theater when doing a Christmas play. The scene was a toy store and we used cardboard boxes covered with wrapping paper as shelves for the toys. Several toys were puppets that “came to life” when the owners left.
A Wooden Theater
You can build several different styles of wood theaters. A camp near us designed a set using a western theme. They had a bunkhouse on one side, a wooden fence in the middle, and a ranch house on the other side. Puppets could appear over the fence or in the windows or doorways of either house.
At a church we attended, we built a puppet house. It consisted of a wall across the width of the room, out about three feet from one end. We built it so it looked like the side of a house with a large window on one side, a door in the middle, and a small window on the other side. To give it the effect of the side of a house, we used 1″ X 6″ Novelty Siding. We also added a roof using cedar shingles. To the right of the door was a 36″ TV and our sound system. We also had it set so we could place a white dry-erase board over the doorway.
Wood Frame Theater
When our team consisted of more than eight members, our old theater wasn’t large enough. We also did some outdoor programs and found the wind caused problems with our regular theater; so we decided to build a new, sturdier theater.
We first constructed several wood frames using 1″ X 3″ boards. The frames were a little over 4′ high and 2′ wide and held together using L-shape brackets and screws. We then stretched fabric over the frames and stapled it in the back. Hinges with removable pins were attached to the back so the pieces could be hooked together. The frames were then attached together forming a half-circle.
Next we used 1″ X 3″ boards to make a frame 6′ long by 3′ wide and covered it with cloth like the smaller frames. Then we used 1″ X 3″ X 6′ for the back uprights and bolted the frame crosswise across the top to make the backdrop for the theater. The upright boards were bolted to the end frames. The effect was similar to a PVC pipe theater.
PVC Pipe Frame Theater
This is our most often used theater which has 2″ X 6″ wood bases and a frame constructed out of 1 ½” PVC pipe that can be purchased at most hardware stores. Curtains are threaded over the pipes for the final look. There are many advantages to using this type of theater. They are durable, lightweight and portable, easy to assemble or disassemble, sturdy, easy to maintain, fairly inexpensive, and are not too difficult to make.
There are 6 different types of stages. Choose the one that best fits your needs, add some imagination and creativity, and see what happens.