Individuals who are interested in puppetry as well as drama, the performing arts, and theater may want to consider earning a master's degree in puppetry or taking puppetry coursework while earning a related master's degree. These degree programs prepare students for careers as professional puppeteers in various on-stage or filmed productions.
Master's Degrees in Puppetry
While it is possible to obtain a master's degree in puppetry, students will want to keep in mind that this program is not at all widely available. There is only one graduate-level program in puppetry in the entire United States as of 2017, and it is offered as both a Master of Arts (MA) degree and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. However, it is also possible for students to pursue other MFA degrees in fields like drama, theater, and applied arts, which sometimes also include courses in puppetry. Below we will look at some of the courses that are found in these programs.
Introduction to Performance
In this non-puppet specific course, students learn about the elements that go into giving a good performance. This include the sound of the voice, body movement, and delivery of lines. Students in this course may play various theater and role-playing games in order to become comfortable with playing different characters and being believable, skills that they can apply to their puppetry.
Modern Puppet Theater
In this course, students gain an understanding of how puppet theater productions are put together today. They focus on the different styles of design and drama that are most commonly employed in these productions. Some courses focus on puppetry in the western world, while others examine global puppetry culture.
History of Theater
This course provides students with a general and broad understanding of classical theater, both including and beyond puppetry. They focus on the history of theater from the Greeks to present day. Students are typically required to read different written works and plays and analyze the writings in order to obtain a better understanding of the characters.
In this course, students learn about a variety of different puppetry forms, from shadow puppets to hand puppets and rod puppets. The course also focuses on the other elements of a puppetry production, like costume and set and how other creative mediums can sometimes be combined with puppetry. Different construction methods for puppets may be covered.
Performing for Young Audiences
Both puppetry and general theater courses may cover how to perform for children. In a puppetry-focused course, students learn about the best methods for creating puppets and props that are suitable for children's productions. A general theater course covers how to choose and direct plays for children. These courses may require students to stage children's productions for practice.
Admission Requirements for Master's Degree in Puppetry
Admission requirements to these programs vary by institution, and some schools require auditions or interviews before granting acceptance. However, in general, students must submit a complete application form and provide proof of undergraduate degree and past transcripts, for which they must have maintained a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. Some schools also require a personal statement, resume, and letters of recommendation. GRE scores are generally not required.
It is possible to obtain a master's degree in puppetry in the United States, though aspiring students only have one school to choose from. There are several other schools that offer performing arts master's degrees that include puppetry electives. These programs prepare students for careers in puppetry, drama and theater.