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Object Theatre

Welcome to the Object Theatre Educational Video and the Object Theatre Information Pack and Teacher’s Guide produced by the Regional NET Coordinating Team, NET Section, EDB. It is hoped that this will be useful resource package to assist teachers and students to explore Object Theatre.

Introduction 

What is Object Theatre?

Object Theatre is an exciting experimental branch of puppetry. What makes Object Theatre different from the puppet shows you might have seen before? In Object Theatre, there are no conventional puppets, there is no puppetry tent and it requires an even greater level of cooperation between the puppeteers. So there are at least three big differences. How exactly does it work?

In Object Theatre, instead of conventional puppets and scenery, characters and stories are created out of everyday objects. Often these objects are chosen to reflect the content of the story. An Object Theatre story set in a kitchen might use bowls, plates, cutlery and cooking utensils to make a chef and a restaurant manager. In a story set in an office, the finance assistant might be made using a calculator and some elastic bands. The office manager might be made from a tape holder, a pair of glasses and staplers.

Object Theatre Puppets: an office manager and a finance officer

Instead of a puppetry tent, the puppeteers are in full view of the audience, who can share in the joy of the artists’ creativity. The puppeteers frequently work together to create one character out of multiple objects. They manipulate the objects in a way that brings them to life – creating walking legs and moving heads out of kitchen equipment and stationery.

Why should we use Object Theatre with our students in English Language Education?

Teachers everywhere in Hong Kong are searching for new ways to bring English alive for their students: to motivate them to speak English meaningfully and creatively, and to help students develop real-life skills through their study of English. In the updated CDC English Language Education Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (P1-S6) (2017) (hereafter ELE KLA CG (P1-S6) (2017)), among the nine key generic skills to be developed in our students are creativity and collaboration. Students are encouraged to develop a ‘creative disposition’, which includes enjoying ‘fantasising and generating new ideas’ and being ‘attracted to intricacies and novelty’ and ‘to embrace challenges’. For collaboration, amongst other characteristics, students should develop the ability to synergise. Schools are also encouraged by the ELE KLA CG (P1-S6) (2017) to ‘create a language-rich environment by … making greater use of… imaginative texts to promote … and encourage free expression and creativity.’ If you are looking for an art form to develop these dispositions and for something fresh and creative for your classroom or for co-curricular activities, then Object Theatre truly fits the bill.

What do the Object Theatre Information Pack and Teacher’s Guide and the Object Theatre Educational Video offer you?

The Object Theatre Educational Video offers an introduction to the basics of Object Theatre by our Object Theatre consultant, Scott Wilkins. The Object Theatre Information Pack and Teacher’s Guide is intended to help students access the key ideas in the video, and practise and develop the Object Theatre skills presented by Scott and his team. Taken together, the Information Pack and Teacher’s Guide, and the video are designed to give you and your students demonstrations, skills training and exercises that will be useful starting points for exploring this ‘wild cousin’ of puppetry. The best of luck in your journey into Object Theatre.

How can we use the Object Theatre Information Pack and Teacher’s Guide and Object Theatre Educational Video?

The Object Theatre Educational Video is intended primarily for teachers to use for the classroom or as part of a co-curricular activity with students, though it can also be used for teacher professional development purposes. It is divided into seven scenes that introduce the basics of Object Theatre in bite-sized chunks (see the Video Synopsis below).

This Information Pack and Teacher’s Guide is intended as a source of supplementary material to help teachers use the video to train their students. It contains notes for the teacher together with activities and photocopiable materials to help students digest the ideas and develop the skills covered in each scene. The activities are divided into before-, while- and after-watching activities in order to help your students comprehend and respond to the content.

We recommend that you first familiarise yourself with the video material and the information pack. After that, show the video to your students in sections, pausing the video to discuss the ideas and complete the activities. There is a lot to take in here: you will be exploring ‘intricacies and novelties’, and ‘embracing new challenges’. Object Theatre is very appealing to young people but also quite unusual with a challenging set of new skills to pick up. These ideas and skills will take time to sink in and to practise. Allowing plenty of time for discussion and practical activities is crucial and will undoubtedly pay off later.

Your students will probably be encountering these ideas for the first time and their confidence will need developing, so it is important to engender a positive atmosphere of creative exploration. We hope that you will enjoy this process as much as we enjoyed making this video and preparing this guide.

Video Synopsis

Scene 1

We go live…

  • Understanding what Object Theatre is
  • Understanding why we should use Object Theatre with our students
  • Object Theatre exercises: ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘This is not a pen’

Scene 2

Choosing the right object

  • Choosing an object
  • Combining objects to create a character
  • Using an object’s features to express character
  • Choosing an object to reflect an aspect of a character
  • Object Theatre exercises: free play with objects

Scene 3

Two pairs of hands are better than one

  • Demonstration and instructions for working together to create a moving character

Scene 4

Three ways of creating a story for Object Theatre

  • Creating stories for Object Theatre

Scene 5 

Issue-based work with Object Theatre

  • Demonstration of issue-based Object Theatre   

Scene 6

Q&A time

  • Should the puppeteer be visible?
  • How can we create a voice for an object theatre puppet?
  • How can we use features of objects to express character
  • Is Object Theatre only suitable for co-curricular activities?

Scene 7

An Object Theatre story: ‘Never make your teacher’s life miserable!’

  • Object Theatre performance demonstration

 

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