Shortly after I returned to Arizona, a good friend and colleague of mine from Theater Works in Peoria, AZ asked me to create a shadow puppet sequence for the opening segment of Once Upon a Mattress.

I was very excited to tackle this project. I created the puppets by hand using large posterboard. The design was inspired by classic illustrations from fairy tales. The puppets were projected using a single-source LED on a large screen centered on stage. The screen was connected to a rig so it could be quickly flown in and out at the top of the show.

Behind-the-scenes shot

In addition to creating the puppets, I directed the sequence and trained a few young actors to use the puppets. The sequence needed to move quickly in time with the narrator’s opening song when he describes the original version of The Princess and the Pea, implying to the audience that there is more to the story they are about to see.

AuthorAubrey Watkins