My first project at UH Manoa has been to design and help create the rod puppets for the TYA show The BFG. The play was adapted by David Wood based on the classic children's book by Roald Dahl. This production was directed by Mark Branner and opens at UH Manoa today, Friday, Nov 14! I really enjoy the script and it's fun, playful qualities and how the whole team brings the action to life is truly inspiring.

In order to create the size difference between Sophie, the lead girl, and her friend, the Big Friendly Giant, the script calls for the use of many different styles of puppets. At one point, The BFG has to actually be giant sized - spanning 24 feet tall on the stage! However, at other times, a regular sized man embodies the character and the young girl is portrayed with a small, 15" tall puppet. This is the puppet that me and the graduate students in a puppetry class were in charge of. The Sophie puppet. I designed and built the puppet with help once a week from others in the class.

Sophie puppet assembled and painting the hands which were sewn out of soft cloth. I also added pieces of elastic from the bottom of the hip to the top of the leg to prevent the legs from twisting.

Sophie puppet assembled and painting the hands which were sewn out of soft cloth. I also added pieces of elastic from the bottom of the hip to the top of the leg to prevent the legs from twisting.

Publicity photo of Sophie puppet and actress Janna Rose Shields. Costumes for both by Kim Shire.

Publicity photo of Sophie puppet and actress Janna Rose Shields. Costumes for both by Kim Shire.



Sophie puppet's body and head before the head was painted and attached. Yilong Liu carved the head and paper mache credit goes to Rhonda Bell.

Sophie puppet's body and head before the head was painted and attached. Yilong Liu carved the head and paper mache credit goes to Rhonda Bell.

Sophie puppet's body skeleton. Attachments were made with rop and limbs were covered with soft foam. Feet were made out of sculpy.

Sophie puppet's body skeleton. Attachments were made with rop and limbs were covered with soft foam. Feet were made out of sculpy.

Almost totally assembled and ready for her costume!

Almost totally assembled and ready for her costume!

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AuthorAubrey Watkins