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Bunraku Puppetry Movement

Bunraku Principles


Bunraku Principles


Students will be able do basic manipulations of a bunraku style puppet by working in teams to build and move their puppet.


  • “Man Who Planted Trees”
  • Butcher Paper
  • Masking Tape

Hook :Bunraku Videos “ Man Who Planted Trees”

  1. Show students Youtube Clip of The Man Who Planted Trees
  2. Ask them to make a list of the different puppetry principles they saw being used in the clip.
  3. Create a group list on the board.
  4. sight
  5. energy
  6. emotion
  7. breath
  8. anatomy


Activity : Building Puppets

  1. Create puppet groups according to height. Should be groups of three that are generally the same height.
  2. Give each group 3 sheets of butcher paper.
  3. 2 feet
  4. 4 feet
  5. 8 feet
  6. Scrunch small paper into a ball.
  7. Crinkle longest paper into a line. Wrap the middle of the long paper around the ball and tape.
  8. Form knees and legs and waist.
  9. Crinkle the middle paper. Tape into shoulders.
  10. Form elbows and wrists.

Activity : Back to Back Breathing

  1. In your puppet teams stand in a circle back to back.
  2. Breath how you are breathing, don’t try to breath a certain way.
  3. Be aware of how your body is moving with each breath, how are you feeling?
  4. Allow students a minute to just breath.
  5. Letting your back and legs touch. You can hold hands to get more connected.
  6. You want to start breathing together. You shouldn’t be cueing each other, don’t take the lead, just try to do it together.
  7. Give them a minute to breath together.
  8. Now let the movement of your combined breath start to move your group.
  9. Once again no leading or cueing, just try to move together.
  10. Try staying away from a pattern, try moving in different ways together.


  1. Were you successful in moving as a group? Why do you think you were and weren’t?
  2. Why would we try to avoid leading or cueing?


Activity How

to Move Your Puppet

  1. Explain the different jobs for the puppeteers.
  2. Person One = both feet
  3. Person Two = waist & arm
  4. Person Three = head & arm
  5. Tension down on ankles, up on waist
  6. Alignment of the spine
  7. Eyes need to see.
  8. Allow students to explore moving with their puppets, having them rotate positions every few minutes so each person gets a chance to manipulate each part of the puppet.


  1. Have students put their puppets away in a safe place.
  2. Next class we will work on really learning how to make our puppets move realistically.