Learn all about design, voicing, and acting—with or without strings attached.
Picture this. You sit your parents down, take a deep breath, and tell them: "Mom, Dad…I want to major in puppetry."
Are they laughing? Or is it more like stunned silence? Maybe they're cheering you on, since you've been performing with finger puppets since you were five years old. Either way, puppetry is not a common career path, so understand you might get a lot of well-meaning (yet annoying) concern from your loved ones when you announce it as your intended major.
So what are you getting into when you study puppetry? Essentially, you'll become well-versed in many areas of theater arts: writing, design, production, directing, and performing. The typical end-goal of a major in puppetry is to become a puppeteer.
A puppeteer is the person who manipulates the puppet, creating movement and voices to bring it to life. You know this. You're a smart cookie. What you may not know is that puppeteers often create the characters and puppets themselves. A puppeteer is no puppet. (Sorry, we couldn't help it.)
Puppetry requires imagination, design aesthetic, creative vision, and, believe it or not, excellent management skills (many puppeteers go on to stage management and directing). Puppetry graduates can manage and direct shows from the stage, film, or even educational applications for mobile devices. The world is your oyster.
Except…it's a tough oyster to crack. Don't expect an offer from the Muppets on your first day out of school. You may have to pay your dues doing amateur work while you pay your rent waiting tables. If comedy is your deal, get ready to beg your friends to check out your act on open mic night. If you're looking to get into children's entertainment, you might perform at the birthday parties of your cousins' kids.
So long as this is what you love, any chance to get out there and do your puppet thing will be a reward—even if there's hardly any cash in it.
Famous People who majored in Puppetry
- Julie Taymor, puppet designer of The Lion King on Broadway
(The puppetry major isn't too popular yet, but here are some people who would have been into it.)
- Jeff Dunham, stand-up comedian
- Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets
- Frank Oz, the man behind Miss Piggy
- Fred Rogers, of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood
- Jason Segel, actor and puppeteer extraordinaire
Percentage of US students who major in Puppetry:
0.003% (Drama and Theater Arts)
Stats obtained from this source.