George and Roscoe Puppets

(Topic: Sewing, crafts, puppets, shakespeare)

Hi Friends!

Some years ago now, in 2015, I saw hubby play with a puppet sea turtle, and realized that I absolutely needed to make him some puppets of his own! I’d never made puppets before, but I figured I could give it a shot. In the meantime, a friend decided that there would be a “Shakespeare Puppetry” contest at a medieval event. In fact, I’m pretty sure she came up with the idea because she also saw hubby playing with that puppet…

I went ahead with just building as my heart led me, without a particular style or play in mind. I just had fun building. I also worked at an industrial supply company at the time, and had access to materials to help me get from idea to reality.

This is George. He is made out of red fleece and fiberfill for the soft parts; his skull is half of a polypropylene ball, the interior of his mouth is a felt disc. Some parts are glued, most are hand stitched. (Note that you can see a cat puppet I already owned beside him. She has a lock washer crown on her head.)
Here you can see how his eyes fit in their sockets. In fact, this was before I put the upper lids on! The eyes are small plastic balls like the skull. The shading on his tongue and the pupils and irises of his eyes are just drawn on with sharpie, but the whites of his eyes actually glow in the dark! As I was constructing him, initially planning to have his eyes fastened on firmly, they kept slipping out of my fingers! This reminded hubby of a scene in King Lear where someone’s eye gets put out. Hm….
Once we decided on King Lear, I sewed up some decently Shakespearean clothing for him. We cut down the scene and eliminated a few characters to make it doable for 2 people (3 puppets total). George played The Duke of Glouchester – whose eye gets put out by sword, I believe (though it was a bit more haphazard than that in our version!). The cat (named Mies) played one of King Lear’s daughters. We added the conceit that she meowed like Henrietta Pussycat from Mr. Rogers.
This crotchety old fellow is named Roscoe. He played Albany, who did the dirty deed. Thus, Roscoe’s eyes needed to stay in place! Between bigger lids and a lot of glue, his eyes stay firmly in his head. They are made the same way as George’s but don’t glow. His hair is actual wool, and he’s bald on top! He also has a dowel from his head downwards, which is used as a grip by reaching in through his back.

Full cast photo ­čÖé
P.S. I did make legs for Roscoe. However, I ran out of time to attach them before the puppetry contest, so his legs still lie in the box with them, separately!

 We ended up putting on the funniest tragedy! Our comedy of errors – since George’s eye fell out early! – had our audience rolling. Best of all, I had a blast putting this crew together!

Yours,

Sarah

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