Arts & Culture

Behind the scenes at the Augsburg Puppetry and Mask Workshop


Have you ever felt envious of actors who get to perform on stage, but you’ve never had the courage to try it yourself? According to Masanari Karahawa, you may want to try puppetry. Karahawa recently hosted a puppetry and mask workshop at Augsburg University with assistance from Project Manager Ivy Benson. The workshop gave Augsburg students the chance to learn the basics of creating masks and puppets and to perform with them on stage.

The puppetry and mask workshop held 10 meetings over the course of two weeks and culminated in a showing on Oct. 18 in which students presented their work.

The first part of the workshop focused on teaching students about different kinds of masks and puppets including hand puppets, rod puppets and Bunraku, a Japanese full-bodied puppet that requires multiple handlers. Students were also taught the proper way to perform with masks and puppets to make these objects as lifelike as possible. Then, students were encouraged to craft their own masks and puppets using a clay mold to create masks and puppets made with paper mâché and corn starch. Many of the students, such as Del Logeais, lifted ideas for their creations from poems, songs and short stories. “My mask is based off of a poem that I read about a sort of divine, feminine character,” said Del. “[She was] just being led through the woods by a group of men, and bells rang when she walked.”

Karahawa believes that there are many lessons one can learn with puppetry that are unique in comparison to other theatrical disciplines. “Being a puppeteer by product forces you to become a more complete theatre artist” said Karahawa. “Because often we devise a script . . . we create our stories and we make our puppets and we design the set and we have to paint the set and everything. We become more rounded.”

Another important aspect unique to puppetry is the behind-the-scenes nature of it, and this can make puppetry a more accessible performance art than stage acting according to Karahawa. “I think puppets are a much gentler artform . . . Puppeteers are invisible. Even if you are shy, you can express what you are trying to say.”

For many of the workshop participants, learning how to create and perform with puppetry and masks was an eyeopening experience to a new artform. Marisa Mosqueda, one of the students involved in the workshop, has developed plans to continue puppetry beyond the workshop. “I’m making a puppet of a younger version of myself,” said Marisa. “I’m eventually going to have a performance of conversations with my younger self.” Considering the success of the workshop, here’s to hoping that Augsburg continues to host art programs that will broaden students’ horizons.

This article first appeared in the Friday, October 20, 2017, Edition of The Echo.