Here are some finalized photos from The BFG as well as photos of the other puppets I created for the production. More can be found on The BFG page.

Production photo by Chesley Cannon

"The vast majority of the show involves the use of puppetry (especially for the girl, Sophie), and elaborate masks (for the evil giants). Using puppet humans to emphasize the size of the giants was effective, and oftentimes charming."  - Nicolyn Charlot, Senior Staff Writer, KaLeo Newspaper

The Queen of England and her butler

The Queen of England and her butler

A closer backstage look of the puppets after they were attached to Buckingham Palace.

A closer backstage look of the puppets after they were attached to Buckingham Palace.

Head of Army and Airforce

Head of Army and Airforce

A final production photo of actress Janna Rose Shields and Sophie the puppet.

A final production photo of actress Janna Rose Shields and Sophie the puppet.


In addition to Sophie, I created small puppet versions of the Queen of England, her butler, her maid, as well as the leaders of the army and the air force. These puppets were meant to match the size and style of Sophie. Also like Sophie, they were created to match their actor counterparts. Costumes for these puppets were created by the costume designer for the production, Kimberly Shire. 

The puppets appeared on top of a miniature Buckingham Palace at the end of the performance in order to say goodbye to their giant friend. They were created with the same method I used to build Sophie, however, since they were made to stay on top of Buckingham Palace and did not need to have any mobility beyond their head and arms, I only made them from the torso up. 

Final dress rehearsal photo of the actors and their puppets with The BFG looking down on them.

Final dress rehearsal photo of the actors and their puppets with The BFG looking down on them.

Posted
AuthorAubrey Watkins

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!

Posted
AuthorAubrey Watkins