Enhancing Practical Creativity

Puppet making and performance workshops


We are all naturally creative but how much of our creative capacity do we actually use?

Does being creative seem too risky sometimes or too demanding? What if we were able to look at creativity as a manageable step-by-step process adaptable to varying needs and demands?

Creativity is an adaptive function that gives us a competitive advantage whether in business, the arts, in relationships or life in general. Many of the Greek myths refer to aspects of creativity while advances in neuroscience give us more insight into what is going on in the brain. Considering that we generally use only 10% of our brains, is there a way of accessing the other 90%?

To be an individual we regularly need to be creative; this involves making our own independent decisions, but how can we learn to maximize our creative decision-making capacities?

Creativity, above all, is fun; success or failure is momentarily unimportant as we open the doors to a space that is ‘wider than the sky'. Although we can understand creativity in theory, it can only be enhanced through practice.


Ariadne dancing

Project aims 

The aim of this project is to develop a step-by-step approach to creativity and creative decision-making and to formulate a clearer understanding of the process needed to reach a positive outcome.

Integral to the project is a strong element of group co-operation offering excellent team-building opportunities.

The workshops are designed to examine the creative process by using practical exercises to enhance personal creative capacities. One outcome of the project is to engage the right-hand or more visually orientated side of the brain and create a dialogue with the left-hand or more verbal and process orientated side of the brain and encourage communication between the two.

Generally for children this is easy, for adults it can be more challenging. For people with a left-brain propensity, being confronted with a visual task that does not conform to a process-orientated approach can be frustrating, that is until the right brain starts engaging when workshop participants are often surprised by a release of extra energy and a decreased awareness of the passage of time.


Theseus and the Minotaur

The workshop

In the puppet workshop we may start by discussing ideas that we want to incorporate into the puppets. If the workshop has a theme, e.g. environmental issues, workplace issues, creative techniques or stories from Greek mythology, these will be discussed and participants are encouraged to express their points of view; the greater the range of view points the better.

Workshop participants then make half life-sized articulated puppets to their own personalised designs which are operated by 2 or three people. This introduces an element of basic team work into the project as the puppet operators need to coordinate their actions to make the puppet move convincingly.


Theseus, King Minos and Ariadne

The puppets are encouraged to ‘speak', expressing the ideas that have been used to make them, thus revealing something of their character. Dialogue between the puppet characters is then scripted into drama, creating a second layer of team work between groups of puppet operators. This is subsequently refined and rehearsed into final performance and potentially presented to an outside audience.

Elements of ‘Forum Theatre' can be incorporated into the project especially if the workshop is being used to address issues and divergent points of view that may not be readily expressed in open discussion. This involves creating alternative scripts reflecting different workshop participant's points of view. Even if a consensus is not achieved, the different view points will have been presented for consideration by the puppets.

King Minos and Ariadne

The project aims to build on the initial creative activity of making the puppets and then take this incrementally through larger group interactions to a final presentation.

The advantage of using puppets is that many constraint which otherwise exist in personal expression, acting and theatre are removed; puppets can be much more versatile than real people and are permitted a greater range of expression.

Tree House Gallery puppets

Optimal group size is between 18 and 25 people although larger or smaller groups can be accommodated.

The basic course can be covered in half a day although whole day courses or two half days cover the material more fully.

The course is designed to be flexible and although primarily conceived of for team-building exercises it is also suitable for younger participants in schools who would like to explore the relevance of creativity to learning and education.


Previous puppet project workshops:

Ipsos-MORI corporate training workshop, London 2009

London Borough of Brent commission on the theme of recycling and the environment for the Brent Respect Festival 2009 with the Leopold Primary School. Workshop and performance in Roundwood Park, Harlesden, London

The Tree House Gallery, Regents Park, London, July and August 2009 Puppet making workshops

Brent Museum: Understanding Contemporary Art-Bring Art Alive. A puppet making workshop inspired by the exhibition of works from The Noble Sage Art Gallery, London 2009

The Octber Gallery, London. A series of children's and adult workshops looking at themes explored in works by artists El Anatsui and Aubrey Williams. January and February 2010

Charles Foster-Hall