John-Paul Flintoff

Master manipulator

Sophia, puppet by Jo Hruby

Recently, I commissioned an amazingly talented puppeteer to make a puppet for my daughter’s birthday. And when N opened her presents over breakfast she was immediately bewitched, naming the puppet Sophia, and wanting to take her to school. (We thought not, but agreed to bring Sophia to meet her at school at the end of the day.)

That’s Sophia, pictured above. Her maker, Joanna Hruby, trained with, among others, the amazing people at the Little Angel Theatre, and seemed delighted to take on the job. I asked her to make a fairy, and sent pictures of some fairy-related toys N already has, in the hope that this might give an idea what was required.

N already has a number of glove puppets, but I was keen to get her a puppet with arms that can be controlled by rods, having recently watched an amazingly dextrous performance by another puppeteer friend, Iestyn Evans, with his puppet Bruce. (I met Iestyn on the Keith Johnstone impro course I wrote about here, in fact that’s Iestyn sitting on the chair beside me in the picture on that post.)

In return, Jo sent me some sketches suggesting what she might make, and subsequently pictures of the work in progress.

Sophia sketcy, by Jo Hruby

Sophia in progress, by Jo Hruby

I hope that one day N will become a master manipulator (probably not the correct term) like Iestyn and Jo. And I quite fancy giving it a go myself…

And if you are thinking of commissioning a puppet yourself (good idea!) you can find Jo here.

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