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California State University: East Bay

by William Shakespeare

Hayward, CA 2016

Directed by: Marc Jacobs

Scenic Design by: Richard Olmsted

Costume Design by: Ulises Alcala


Actors: Mariah Larios, Sean Scott

Photo by Kedar Dutt

Cymbeline has an evil queen and it was decided that she would need a puppet companion on her shoulder. The first thing I did was research shoulder puppets. I found a simple puppet design controlled by an RC Airplane Push Rod, which is essentially a sturdy metal wire inside a plastic sheath. 


As stated in the image above, the head floats on the wire only while the body is attached to the plastic sleeve. I re-enforced the ends of each with pine blocks that kept everything in place, as well as provided a lightweight structure. 


The bird was originally a paper mache figure. The head was seperated from the body using the Band Saw and the rest of the interior pieces were attached using epoxy resin glue.


Above is a close-up of the control mechanism. The push rod was thin and long enough to be put through the actress' sleeve and the mechanism would be in the palm of her hand. In order to move the bird's head, she could both turn the bottom part of the mechanism and press the two dowels together. These two actions combined to move the head both up and down, as well as side to side. With a minimum of practice, she could easily bring the bird to life.


The final steps were adding a bit of extra fluff around the neck in order to hide the small gap of the floating head and mounting the legs to the actress' costume, which was kindly done by the Costume Shop.

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