The Character of a Puppet's Voice

by Spencer Duncan

Unit Title: The Character of a Puppet’s Voice


Author:  Spencer Duncan


Objective:Students will demonstrate their ability to manipulate voice to clearly portray an objective-driven character through the design and development of a puppet character in a short scene.


Learning Level:7th-9thgrade, beginning for junior high


Student Prior Experience: none


2014 Standards:


TH:Pr5.1.7.a. Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.

TH:Cr.1.1.7.b. Explain and present solutions to design challenges in a drama/ theatre work.

TH:Cr.1.1.7.c. Envision and describe a scripted or improvised character’s inner thoughts and objectives in a drama/theatre work.

TH:Pr4.1.7.b. Use various character objectives in a drama/theatre work

TH:Cr3.1.7.b. Develop effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work

TH:Cr2-7.b. Demonstrate mutual respect for self and others and their roles in preparing or devising drama/theatre work.

TH:Cr3.1.7.a. Demonstrate focus and concentration in the rehearsal process to analyze and refine choices in a devised or scripted drama/theatre work.

TH:Re9.1.7a. Explain preferences, using supporting evidence and criteria to evaluate drama/theatre work.


Essential Questions:

  • What happens when theatre artists use their imaginations and/or learned theatre skills while engaging in creative exploration and inquiry?
  • How do theatre artists transform and edit their initial ideas?
  • How are the theatre artist’s processes and the audience’s perspectives impacted by analysis and synthesis?


Big Ideas/Enduring Understandings:

  • Theatre artists rely on intuition, curiosity, and critical inquiry.
  • Theatre artists refine their work and practice their craft through rehearsal.
  • Theatre artists apply criteria to investigate, explore, and assess drama and theatre work.


Key Knowledge & Skills:


Basic puppetry, Use of Voice in Portraying Character, Projection, Diction, Design, Anatomy, Feedback, Objective, Creativity, Respect, Interpreting, Analysis


Authentic Performance Tasks:

  • Design of a puppet.
  • Demonstration of puppet character’s objective and voice.
  • Teaching peers about vocal characteristics.
  • Demonstrating projection onstage.
  • Demonstrating diction through a tongue-twister battle.
  • Charting basic vocal anatomy.
  • Giving peer-feedback in a guided rehearsing workshop
  • Improvising and developing a 2-3 minute puppet scene
  • Giving and responding to peer-criticism post-performance


Unit Lessons:


Lesson 1: Parts of the Voice

Objective: Students will demonstrate an emerging understanding of vocal technique by charting human anatomy, miniature exercises, and a game which practices projection.


Lesson 2: Vocal Characteristics

Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding of vocal characteristics and their application to character by teaching and modeling characteristics in preparation for analyzing a live performance ‘s use of characteristics in its creation of character.


Lesson 3: Tongue Twisters & Puppet Conception

Objective: Students will demonstrate an ability to use diction through a tongue-twister competition. They will also demonstrate their ability to imagine and create characters through the design of a puppet.


Lesson 4: Puppet Conception & Creation

Objective: Students will demonstrate an ability to interpret and create from a design through creating their designed puppet character.


Lesson 5: Objectives, Rehearsal and the Dating Game

Objective:  Students will demonstrate an ability to choose and apply a specific objective to their puppet character’s scene through observed practice and communication with the teacher.


Lesson 6: Rotating Previews of Practice

Objective:  Students will demonstrate an ability to both give and/or receive feedback through discussion after each preview. 


Lesson 7: Performance!

Objective: Students will demonstrate an ability to perform objective-driven and vocally-refined characters through a live puppet show.


Lesson 8: Performance–Again!

Objective: Students will demonstrate an ability to perform objective-driven and vocally-refined characters through a live puppet show.


Character of a Puppet’s Voice Unit by Spencer Duncan