Hands-On in the Exhibit
"[I]t all starts with the eyes. And to this day the eyes are usually the last thing to go on a puppet … because that's really when it becomes the character."
— Craig Shemin, Vice President, The Jim Henson Legacy, and former Henson Company writer
While enjoying the work of Jim Henson and his artistic partners on film and television, it can be easy to forget that vast amounts of work and skill go into creating lifelike performances out of fur, felt and foam. But don't just take our word for it; try it out for yourself! You'll have the chance to stretch your own inventive genius with these interactive games, challenges and activities in the exhibit.
Create, direct and stage your own puppet show! Get started by choosing either a space or science laboratory theme, and then cast a few puppets (and props) to star in the production. Below the stage, you can see your theater act on television—showing you what is being "broadcast" to other guests. Henson viewed the borders of a TV as the "stage," so this provides a sense of his experience as a director and puppeteer working in this form.
Learn the science behind sound effects as you try your hand—or perhaps foot—as a "Foley artist" (a real job named after a pioneer of sound-effect creation). You’ll watch a clip of The Muppet Movie and learn about the audio techniques. Watch the clip again, this time on “mute,” and try to recreate the sound effects you heard the first time. If it’s not music to your ears, come back to the stage and try again!
Create a Character
So much of one’s personality is in the facial expression: the wink, the grin, the raised eyebrows, the dimple (and yes, the laugh lines). On a large felt puppet wall, you’ll choose the various features (eyes, ears, mouths, noses, clothing, etc.) needed to create your character. How much character you can infuse into your character?
Like the ones seen in the exhibit, storyboards are series of drawings that help to plan a film or video sequence … rather like a script in visual form. Exercise your visualization skills in the Storyboarding area of the exhibit. An opening line will be provided on the storyboard; it'll be up to you to create the six storyboards to complete the story.
Jim Henson with Kermit the Frog in 1978 on the set of The Muppet Movie.
Photo courtesy of The Jim Henson Company. Kermit the Frog © The Muppets Studio, LLC.
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