Helen Evans Storyteller




 There is a strong tradition of puppetry in many parts of the world. 

 Shadow puppets in Asia, marionettes, in Europe and

 glove puppets in Britain.

 In Australia, puppet groups are growing in number and courses in  

 puppetry are now being offered as part of theatre arts.

 I wish I’d had that option available when I was a student.

This is an Indonesian puppet of the Wyang Golek type.


I first met puppets when I was five years old.  It was a very brief experience at school.  There were three bear puppets and the  teacher handed me baby bear and pushed me behind a screen with two other children.  I had been away sick and had no idea what to do, so stood there clutching my bear to my chest.  After a few moments, the teacher called me out and gave the puppet to another child.  I found out then what I should have done but it was too late.  I didn’t get another turn.  For some reason we were not in our own classroom. I have no idea where the puppets came from, or where they went to.  But that brief incident has stayed with me always.

I was thirteen when I met puppets again.  I was in first year at High School and the English teacher announced that everyone in the class would make a glove puppet and write a puppet play.  The next few weeks were a memorable creative experience filled with plasticine, paper-mache and stickiness.  A class play was finally composed and practices began.  Everyone was involved.  Some boys constructed the theatre in their woodwork classes, others learnt how to provide lighting.  To everyone’s surprise, I was a star performer with my puppet.  I was always a shy child, almost petrified with nerves when standing in front of an audience in a school play.  Out of sight behind the screen, I brought my puppet to life.  My puppet was not the best constructed but it moved, while most of the others just stood there.  My self esteem and confidence grew.  I always regretted the fact that I never met that teacher after I was an adult.  I owed him a lot.

Strangely, puppets were not a part of the early childhood course I did.  As director of a pre-school,  I used the cheap puppets available and discovered that children focus on the puppet even when the puppeteer is not hidden from sight.  It was not until I became a storyteller that I began to make my own puppets.  Mine are very simple hand or glove puppets.  If I want special purpose puppets beyond my creative skills, I buy them.  There are some fabulous ones available now.


 Puppets are an excellent aid in storytelling. 

 Stories can be adapted as puppet plays and puppets are also

 useful in other ways.  I use them to

·           teach vocabulary

·           encourage children to participate in conversations

·           take turns in speaking

·           show the concepts of size, place, number etc. as in Sesame Street

·           explore feelings with the children

·            build self esteem and confidence

 These are some of the glove puppets I have made










© Copyright HELENEVANS 2006