Project Puppet! One Self as Another

During February Half-term, the RWA, in collaboration with Bristol-based organization My Future My Choice, ran a puppet-making workshop with children from Cotham School, Holiday Club.

The children visited the RWA, spending time looking around the portraiture and identity exhibitions, including Actors and Artifice, and Idols and Illusions. Working in small groups they selected a portrait – Richard III or Rita Hayworth for example – and then went on to create their own puppets based on these characters.

The puppets were built back at Cotham School over a day and a half, followed by a short performance for family and friends, which saw the puppets paired-off in amusing, and sometimes unlikely combinations, so that, for example, Harpo Marx was in conversation with Frankenstein’s Monster, and Rita Hayworth chatted away to Joan Crawford. Narcissus, however, naturally had the stage to himself!

The schools project “One Self as Another” involved enquiry, team work and a synthesis of learning through the making and performing of life size puppets as creative responses to the exhibitions.

Day One – Visit to the RWA

2 hours were spent exploring the exhibitions, with the help of the gallery learning staff who engaged pupils with the artworks and facilitating group discussion around the theme of portraiture and identity. The session challenged pupils in small groups to choose a ‘sitter’ from the portraits on show. The sitter became their puppet. 

Rita Hayworth meets Joan Crawford

Romeo and Juliet…. Romeo and Juliet, by Mather Brown (c1788-1806) / Narcissus on the balcony…..  Narcissus, by Cathy Lewis (2014)


Rita Hayworth and Joan Crawford


Cecilia Loftus (Cissie) by John Collier (1895) or Cissie -a rather pale actress that looked a bit vampire like

Day One and Two – Extension activity in school

Research and analysis of their ‘sitter’. Knowledge and opinions about their ‘sitter’ developed into life size puppet character. The basic template for the mechanics of the puppet were provided, the pupil’s creativity and ingenuity generated the rest.






End of Day Two – Performance to parents and families 

Rita Hayworth meets Joan Crawford

‘Cissie’ as a vampire meets Richard III

Narcissus tells the audience how beautiful he is and how he has no time for Echo or Apollo

Harpo Marx meets Frankenstein and eventually Harpo can see beyond surface appearances

Curtain call

Funded by – Parents, Cotham-School Holiday Club, RWA and  Heritage Lottery Fund

For more information on working with the RWA contact Joel Edwards

Learning and Participation Manager RWA

0117 906 7604 /

More RWA learning projects are planned for the summer term 2014



Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “Project Puppet! One Self as Another

  1. This looks like a very well managed project which has been documented with excellent photographs. I enjoyed looking at it. Congratulations!
    Peter Ford RE., RWA

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